The second phase of the West Bengal municipal polls was overshadowed by the strong earthquake that hit around noon taking a toll of five lives.
The quake hit when voting was picking up in different booths along with the rising tempers. But the natural calamity brought panic and fear as voters standing in the queue ran for safety. In many booths the presiding officers and the poll personnel came out of the voting premises.
However, the voting resumed but it lost the focus and the tempo as people were busy discussing the earthquake and its aftermath.
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Manglu Roy – a daily wage earner was killed when he was working at a construction site under Bhaktinagar police station area of Jalpaiguri district. The 50-year old man died when being taken to North Bengal Medical College hospital.
In Naxalbari, Rukban Khatun reportedly suffered a stroke during the earthquake and panicked by the sever swinging of the earth. The local people said that the 42 year old housewife ran short of breath and died out of panic.
In Manickchak of Malda district a 65 year old man reportedly fell from the terrace when the earthquake hit and died on the spot. Two more deaths were reported from Kaliachak area in house collapse. The details are awaited.
In Siliguri town many buildings developed cracks and the balcony of a three storied building collapsed at Pradhan nagar though no one was injured. The Neotia Get Well hospital in Siligurin evacuated the patients when the earth quake hit and brought everyone down on the ground floor with their saline and blood transfusion channels.
In Darjeeling town – many buildings developed cracks and about 15 persons sustained minor injuries, said Akhilesh Chaturvedi , the SP.
In Malda over 125 school children were caught in the midst of severe shaking when the quake hit and in a rush to get out of the school building several of them were hurt. In Gajole and Ratua blocks students were in a rush to get out of the building and several of them were hurt. About six students were taken to the district hospital and given first aid.
The West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee received a call from the Prime Minister Narendra Modi who inquired about the earthquake damage. Later, Mamata banerjee called an emergency meeting at the secretariat and geared up the state administration to mount a relief and res cue operation in the affected areas.
The CM said : “I am extremely shocked with the incident of earthquake that took place in Nepal and its tragic aftermath. My deepest condolences to the bereaved families. We are very anxious about climbers and their associates who have gone on expedition to the Everest. We pray that they return back to their bases safely. “
She further stated: “the earthquake has also caused extensive damages in Bengal. Survey is being carried out on war footing to assess the extent of damages to buildings, bridges, roads, flyovers, and other important infrastructure. We are providing all support. Today, I held crisis management meeting with senior official at Nabanna. DMs, SPs, Kolkata municipal corporation have been alerted,” the CM said.
The CM is set to fly to North Bengal in Siliguri tomorrow and take a stock of the situation after on teh spot survey of the quake damage. She later said that many tourists form Bengal are stranded in Nepal and the state government is making all arrangements through the MEA to ensure their safe return.”
The district magistrate Jalpaiguri, Preetha Ssarkar said that about nine persons, mostly women were admitted to Jalpaiguri hospital with “mental trauma.” They did not have any injury in the earthquake but the vigorous swinging of the earth made them sick, she said.
In Kolkata, many buildings had developed cracks and some flyovers also reportedly developed cracks. The damage is being assessed.