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Last Updated:  Thursday, 13 March, 2003, 06:46 GMT
Heavy storm hits Bengal
Storm in rural West Bengal
Heavy rain hit many parts of the state
At least 15 people have been killed and more than 500 injured in the Indian state of West Bengal by heavy rains and hailstorms.

The unexpected storm blew in from the Bay of Bengal late on Wednesday night.

Weather officials said wind speeds reached up to 80 kilometres per hour in some places.

The storm affected rail and air services in the state and caused significant damage in rural areas.

Officials say the district of Hooghly along the river Ganges was the worst affected by the storm and the rains.

Twelve people died in the villages of Hooghly and more than 20 were injured.

Most of the injuries occurred when mud houses collapsed and damaged electricity lines resulted in electrocution.

Two died in the hailstorm in Bankura district and more than 200 were injured, mostly hit by hailstones some of which weighed over two kilograms.

One rickshaw-puller died instantly in Howrah district when he stepped unknowingly on a damaged electricity line.

"Of the more than 500 people injured, 56 are still in hospital," senior state police official Narayan Chandra Ghosh told Reuters.


Heavy rainfall hit several other parts of the state.

Power disruption affected suburban train services from both the Howrah and the Sealdah stations.

Air services from Calcutta were also affected and one report said the roof of a shed in the domestic air terminal was blown off.

Weather officials said the high pressure trough in the Bay of Bengal had led to the depression and the rains had now cleared.

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