Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay visited the windstorm-affected households of Punakha yesterday.

At least 318 houses including several government structures and lhakhangs suffered various damages following a strong windstorm that lasted for more than seven hours. The windstorm began at 10am on April 16.

Lyonchoen Tshering Tobgay met the windstorm-affected households of Sirigang village in Kabjisa, which suffered the most damage with more than 72 households reportedly affected. Lyonchoen also visited the Chorten Nyinpo Monastic School in Kabjisa which sustained severe damage during the windstorm.

Lyonchoen conveyed the deep concerns of His Majesty The King and informed the affected households that His Majesty immediately Commanded dzongkhag, Desuup volunteers and the Royal Bhutan Police to provide necessary support to the affected families.

The people of Sirigang expressed their gratitude to His Majesty The King for the immediate relief and continuous support rendered to them.

Lyonchoen told the affected households not to regard the incident as a bad omen but to consider it as simply a disaster, and to try to build stronger roofs.  The people of Sirigang expressed their deep gratitude towards His Majesty The King for the immediate relief work and help they received following the destruction.

More than 145 houses in Kabjisa were affected, making it the gewog with the highest number of damaged houses, among the nine affected gewogs. Chubu gewog  reported 45 affected houses, followed by Guma with 33 and Goenshair gewog with 30. In Talo gewog, around 22 houses were affected by the windstorm, Dzonmi gewog reported nine damaged houses and Toepisa gewog saw seven, while Shegana and Toewang gewogs saw three affected houses each.

A total of 220 houses sustained major damage, while 86 structures suffered minor damage. The windstorm also affected the roofs and wooden components of three lhakhangs and nine government structures.

Dorji Wangchuk, 42, of Sirigang village lost the roof of his house to the windstorm. “It will take time for us to recover from this destruction,” he said. He added that as his cattle was already out grazing in the forest, further disaster was likely averted.

He added that the windstorm also affected the chilli saplings and beans planted in their kitchen gardens.

Kencho Zam, 76, said that while she had experienced other windstorms, this was the strongest one she had observed in her lifetime.

Dawa Gyelmo | Punakha