Storm: The hailstorm on Saturday, January 9, in Sipsu and Biru, Samtse damaged more than 8,000 fruit bearing areca nut trees, according to gewog officials.

Sipsu gup Nandaraj Giri said fruits from about more than 8,000 areca nut trees had fallen to the ground prematurely because of the hailstone. “Gangjundangling (Pakhagaon) has been hit the most,” the gup said.

Hailstone as big as playing marbles also destroyed more than 10,000 areca nut saplings in Gangjungling village. As areca nut tree is the only fruit tree that bears fruit in winter, other cash crops such as cardamom and mandarin were not affected. The storm that pounded for five minutes also destroyed vegetables like Spinach, broccoli, radish, and mustard green.

The gup said an assessment report for areca nuts was submitted to the dungkhag administration and to the disaster focal person. Reports on vegetables affected were not submitted.

Biru gewog also reported of damage to more than 500 areca nut trees.

“The damage was not huge,” Biru gup said, adding it was because most of the fruit bearing plants had a off-season.

The storm was heaviest in Gola town where the hailstones settled and measured more than an inch making the town look like under a blanket of snow. However, there are no reports of damages to houses or vehicles.

A Samtse dzongkhag officer who was in Sipsu said that storm lasted for about 30 minutes altogether in Gola town. “People were saying that this was the worst hailstorm in years,” said the officer, who didn’t want to be named. “The stones were bigger than marbles at some point,” he said.

Rajesh Rai, Phuentsholing