Three people died in West Bengal and Odisha even as the 'very severe' cyclonic storm Bulbul weakened into a 'severe' one on Saturday evening, wreaking havoc in the coastal districts of both the states and causing damage to thousands of houses, uprooting trees and affecting hundreds of phone towers, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs said on Sunday.
As the centre of the severe cyclone Bulbul moved to Bangladesh, high winds with speeds up to 80 kms in West Bengal's South 24 Parganas continue to rage there, said the Ministry, citing a preliminary report received from West Bengal and Odisha.
Two people died in West Bengal including one who was killed when a tree fell on him in the Basirhat city of South 24 Parganas district.
One death was reported from Odisha's Kendrapara district as per the latest figure, said the Ministry, correcting its earlier information in which it had mentioned that two people had died. The Ministry clarified that there was one death in Odisha before the cyclone hit the state which was added inadvertently.
A total of 7,815 houses was damaged and 870 trees uprooted after the landfall of the cyclone in West Bengal, said the Ministry, adding 950 phone towers were also affected causing power disruption in the state. "The restoration work of power and telecommunication services has started in West Bengal where one ICDS centre based in Paschim Medinipur district also got damaged."
Odisha's four districts were severely affected due to the impact of the cyclone that uprooted several trees and damaged roads as well as communication and power services, the Ministry said.
"Power line restoration is going on a war footing basis in Odisha. More than 70 per cent connections are already restored and the remaining will be restored by today (Sunday) evening."
The Ministry said that almost all the roads have been cleared of the fallen trees and the traffic flow was normal. There is a report of extensive damage to crops in Odisha, said the Ministry, adding that house and crop damage assessment was going on.
A total of 20 Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force, six National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and 226 Fire Services Teams were engaged in the operation and were helping in the faster restoration of road and power connections, said the Ministry.
The Ministry said that the Centre kept close observation on the cyclone with Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Nripendra Misra himself reviewing the situation on Thursday -- two days before the cyclone hit the coastal areas of West Bengal and Odisha.
National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) chaired by Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba had reviewed the preparedness to deal with the cyclone on Friday and Saturday.
Timely alert was given by the India Meteorological Department and 16 NDRF teams -- 10 in West Bengal and six in Odisha -- were deployed prior to the landfall of the cyclone, the Ministry said, adding that the NDRF were assisting the state administration in the evacuation, restoration of roads and distribution of relief materials.
"Additional 18 NDRF teams remained on standby, Indian Coast Guard and Navy also remained on alert and assisted the civil administration in relief and medical assistance."
The Ministry said the Department of Telecommunication helped in the restoration of about 800 telecom Base Transceiver Station (BTS) -- a piece of equipment that facilitates wireless communication between user equipment and a network -- and work in remaining 1,000 BTS was on.