Intense cold wave conditions in West Bengal on Thursday claimed four lives in Bardhaman district where the temperature dropped to as low as six degrees Celsius. The mercury dipped to 10 degrees Celsius in Kolkata, four degree below normal, making it the coldest day in the city in the past 10 years.
Confirming the deaths near Asansol in Bardhaman, District Magistrate Omkar Meena said the district authorities were distributing blankets to the homeless and had also issued instructions to State-run hospitals to deploy baby warmers.
According to Metrological Department officials, the cold condition will continue for the next 24 hours and the mercury is likely to dip further.
“Cold currents of wind from the northern and north-eastern part of the country have resulted in the chilly weather in the State,” said Alipore Regional Meteorological Department director G. C. Debnath. “The snowfall in Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and other northern regions of the country has also caused the mercury to dip.”
The minimum temperature dipped to 8.1 degrees in Malda and 7.5 in Shantiniketan in Birbhum district, four and five degree below the normal respectively.
Meanwhile, all four divisions of the South Eastern Railway have been affected by fog.
Keeping in view the fog alert, the Railways have instructed drivers to regulate the speed of trains depending on visibility conditions. They have also been instructed not to move at a speed over 60 km per hour, a railway release said.
In areas prone to dense fog, luminous and fluorescent strips have been painted on the overhead equipment before all stop signals to warn the drivers that they are about to approach a halt signal.
Some trains were rescheduled due to the heavy fog at Howrah and Sealdah stations. Malda and Bolpur stations have reported less than 200 metres of visibility due to the dense fog and the cold wave. An alert for dense fog has been issued for Bankura, Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar districts of West Bengal.