- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 14, 2010

CALCUTTA (AP) — A cyclone packing winds of more than 100 mph demolished ten of thousands of mud huts in northeastern India, killing at least 89 people, officials said Wednesday.

The cyclone struck Tuesday night in northeastern parts of West Bengal and Bihar states, uprooting trees and snapping telephone and electricity lines, West Bengal Civil Defense Minister Srikumar Mukherjee said. Hundreds of people were injured.

Television footage showed uprooted trees lying across shanties and sheets of corrugated metal ripped from the roofs of homes. Small children sat outside their damaged huts as parents tried to salvage their belongings from inside.

The cyclone demolished nearly 50,000 mud huts in West Bengal and more than 1,000 in Bihar, officials said.

The worst-hit villages in West Bengal state were Hematabad, Raiganj and Kiran Dighi, where police and rescue teams have recovered 39 bodies, Ramanuj Chakraborty, a senior local official told The Associated Press.

Another 46 people were killed in the northeastern Bihar districts of Araria, Kishenganj and Purnea, according to Vyasji, Bihar state’s secretary for disaster management, who uses just one name.

By Wednesday evening, authorities had begun rushing medical teams and food supplies to the cyclone-hit area, Mr. Chakraborty said. Temporary shelters were also being set up for those who had lost their homes, he said.

A prison wall collapsed in Bihar’s Araria district, forcing authorities to shift more than 600 inmates to another prison, officials said.

Associated Press reporter Indrajit Singh in Patna, India, contributed to this report.

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