15 die in Bihar thundersquall; Met issues alert, flights delayed, power supply disrupted
Fifteen persons lost their lives in thundersquall across Bihar early Tuesday .
A portion of the pontoon bridge in Danapur, connecting Patna with north Bihar, also drifted away, affecting vehicular traffic.
Confirming the deaths, principal secretary, disaster management department, Pratyaya Amrit said, “Two persons each died in Aurangabad, Lakhisarai, Madhubani and Begusarai districts, while one death each was reported from Patna, Nalanda, Purnia, Darbhanga, Supaul, Araria and Munger.”
DMD special secretary Anirudh Kumar said, “Eight persons died due to lightning, five to felling of trees and two to wall collapse.”
Amrit had issued express instructions to district magistrates to release Rs 4 lakh each as ex-gratia to the next of kin of the deceased under the calamity relief fund.
The thundersquall, having wind velocity of 43 knotts (80 kms approx.) per hour, was accompanied with smart showers and lightning. It disrupted power supply in many parts of the state and reduced visibility to just about 500 metres, delaying morning flights of GoAir and IndiGo from New Delhi to Patna. The standard visibility required for air operations at Patna airport is 1800 metres.
The Met said it had issued temporary aerodrome weather warning, preventing flight operations till around 7.15am on Tuesday. The Met had issued a similar warning on Monday as well.
The thundersquall also affected movement of trains in some parts of Bihar, as flying objects landed on overhead electricity cables.
Met said the thundersquall began at 5.43am and lasted two minutes. However, the severity was such that it damaged electric poles, overhead wires, advertising hoardings, trees, police barricades and their temporary shelters, including a few traffic police posts.
Power supply to most areas of the state capital was disrupted following snapping of conductors at many places in and around Patna. Patna Electricity Supply Undertaking (Pesu), which supplies power to Patna, said that electricity supply had been disrupted following snag at many places.
Pesu general manager Dilip Kumar told HT, “Of the 175 feeders (11 kV conductors which supply electricity from power sub-station to distribution transformers) in Patna, we were able to restore 167 by 8am. Most of these feeders were affected following felling of trees and their branches on them at many places.”
He said major damage had been reported from the Garikhana canal, Chajjubagh, and veterinary college areas, including the Bihar Military Police feeder, but power had been diverted through alternate sources.
Schoolchildren had a difficult time commuting. Though the rainfall lasted around 30 minutes, it was enough to expose Patna’s poor drainage system, as water accumulated in some low-lying areas following the sharp shower.
The thundersquall, however, provided much needed relief from the scorching heat, as Met reported a 7 degree Celsius decline in average morning temperature, with 8.3 mm rainfall. Patna reported a maximum temperature of 35 degree and minimum of 25 degrees Celsius on Monday.
Met director Sumendu Sengupta said, “The thundersquall (when wind velocity is above 16 knotts per hour and lasts a minimum of 2 seconds), followed by thunderstorm (wind velocity less than 16 knotts per hour), was due to convective clouds and upper air cyclonic circulation over Bihar. It is expected to last another two days.”
The Met has predicted possibility of thunderstorm in major parts of the state till May 13.