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Kolkata: Just four days ahead of the Durga Puja, south Bengal, including Kolkata, is bracing for a heavy to very heavy rainfall in the next 24 hours.

With the weather office warning that the rain will be accompanied by a severe cyclonic storm gusting up to a speed of 65 kmph, the state government has sounded an alert and has asked the district administration to stay prepared to meet any eventuality.

“We are keeping a watch on the situation and a control room has been activated at (state secretariat) Nabanna,” Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said while inaugurating the Ekdalia Evergreen Durga Puja at Gariahat today afternoon.

The impending rain is due to cyclone Titli, which is now hovering over west-central Bay of Bengal near the coast of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh. Early on Thursday, Titli is likely to make a landfall in Odisha and start moving northwards to Gangetic Bengal causing heavy rains.

True to the forecast by the weather office, the rains have already started in Kolkata, Howrah, Hooghly, North and South 24-Parganas, Jhargram, East and West Midnapore districts.

In Kolkata, the rains started in the afternoon, and by 8.30 pm, it has rained about 14 mm. Digha in East Midnapore, which is the heart of Gangetic Bengal, is already witnessing heavy rains. It has rained 121 mm at Digha till 8.30 pm today.

The rain is likely to intensify further on Thursday and the warning is that it will rain up to 250 mm in some of the districts in south Bengal. According to the weather office, the downpour will continue till 14 October and will cease a day ahead of the Durga Puja.

With rough sea condition prevailing, bathing in the sea at Digha has been barred till further order. Fishermen have also been asked not to venture into the sea till at least 13 October.