At least 15 people were killed in West Bengal on Tuesday evening as twin storms and heavy rainfall lashed the state, IANS reported. The storms caused electric poles to fall, uprooted trees and triggered wall and roof collapses in several houses. They also disrupted rail, road and air traffic.

Of the 15, seven died in Kolkata, six in Howrah district, one person was electrocuted in Bankura and another in Hooghly area after they were struck by lightning.

Police said nearly 50 people were injured in incidents of wall collapse, uprooting of trees and electrocution, PTI reported.

Of the seven people who died in the city, an autorickshaw driver and a woman died when a tree fell on the vehicle in central Kolkata, the police said. Two others travelling in the autorickshaw died of injuries at a hospital later on Tuesday night.

In Howrah district, four people were electrocuted after they were struck by lightning in Bali and Belur areas. One death was reported from Andul Road when an electric pole fell on a person riding a two-wheeler and a woman died in Dumurjola area of the district.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has instructed the chief secretary to look into the situation and prepare a report on the deaths and damage caused by the storm.

The disaster management department has been asked to send teams to affected districts, state secretariat officials said.

Norwester disrupts railway, flight services

The deaths and devastation was the result of the norwester – a seasonal storm. The storm, with a gale speed of 84 kilometres per hour, hit Kolkata and adjoining districts at 7.42 pm. Another storm hit the city at 7.55 pm, this time with a wind speed of 98 kilometres per hour.

“Convective thunderclouds were floating towards Kolkata from the neighbouring districts of Burdwan, Howrah and Nadia,” Regional Meteorological Centre Director GK Das told The Times of India. But unlike on previous occasions, the clouds got concentrated over Kolkata and struck the city with tremendous speed.

The storm, the fastest to hit West Bengal since Cyclone Aila in 2009, uprooted nearly 200 trees across Kolkata, PTI reported.

South Eastern Railway services were disrupted in the Howrah-Bardhaman and Howrah-Tarakdewhar sections. The railing of a flyover blew off and fell between platforms 19 and 20 of Howrah station, but there were no casualties.

Kolkata Metro services were hit when a tree fell between Dum Dum and Noapara stations, stranding commuters in a train inside the tunnel.

Flight services were halted for 100 minutes at the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport as aircraft travelling to Bhubaneswar, Delhi and Agartala took off late.