Lightning killed 11 persons in north Bengal as a Nor'wester raged through the region this afternoon.

Ten of the victims, including a CPM panchayat poll candidate, were from Malda.

Taking a break from a hectic campaign schedule, Habibur Rehman, 42, contesting from the Bhado gram panchayat, was sipping tea at a roadside stall, when a bolt from the sky struck him. He died on the spot.

agannath Mandal, 55, was killed when lightning blew off the roof of his home in Kalichak, while a railway shed in Englishbazar collapsed on 17-year-old Prasenjit Saha.

Four persons from two families died at Tiklichar. They have been identified as Abul Qasim and his son Kustar Sheikh, and Akhtara Bibi and her brother-in-law Mohammed Gena.

Sami residents Afzal Hussain, 24, Mohammed Nasiruddin, 41, and Habib Baser, 35, had gone to the village haat when they fell to a lighting strike.

"The block development officers have been told to assess the damage and submit a report," Malda district magistrate Chittaranjan Das said.

In Siliguri, Nilima Roy, a 20-year-old resident of Sipahipara, was killed when she was standing on the verandah of her house.

The lives of farmers in Balurghat were spared, but the hailstorm wreaked havoc on their livelihood.

"My 10 bighas of ripened paddy have been damaged," said Bidhan Das of Shibpur.

Mango growers in Malda reported extensive damage as well. District mango officer Samarendranath Khanra said today's storm is likely to slash production by 10 per cent.

"The storm has brought down all the green mangoes," said Subodh Mishra, president of Malda Mango Merchants' Association.