Hailstorms kill 33 in Bihar, govt announces ex-gratia

At least 33 people lost their lives in hailstorms across several districts of Bihar late on Thursday, with heavy rains swamping crops and destroying homes, The Times of India reported.

Authorities said seven people died in Bhagalpur district, followed by six in Muzaffarpur and three each in Saran and Lakhisarai districts.

“The hailstorm coupled with lightning and strong winds also disrupted traffic and power supply for several hours in many towns across the state as a large number of trees were uprooted by the storm,” a disaster management department official said on Friday.

While Munger and Samastipur reported two deaths each, Jehanabad, Khagaria, Nalanda, Purnia, Banka, Begusarai, Araria, Jamui, Katihar and Darbhanga each reported one death during the storm, which caught many people unawares.

As trees fell either on electricity wires or on roads, movement of traffic got disrupted in many areas, officials said.

In the state capital, Patna, power supply remained disrupted in many areas, including Srikrishna Nagar, Patna Museum areas and Buddha colony after a tree fell on a power sub-station near the Patna high court.

The city was hit by scorching heat over the past few weeks and weather officials said the city and state could be in for more rains accompanied by gusty winds and hail storms ahead of the monsoon season.

CM Nitish Kumar on Friday called an emergency meeting to take stock of the situation and announced an immediate ex-gratia payment of Rs 4 lakh each to the relatives of all 33 killed in the hailstorm.

Expressing grief over the loss of lives, the CM said he was with the affected families in this hour of natural calamity. “CM Nitish Kumar is deeply saddened after hearing about the loss of lives…. He has expressed deep condolences towards the affected families,” a communique issued from the CM office said on Friday.

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