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Cyclone fatalities fall, economic losses on rise

  • Published at 01:43 am April 30th, 2017
Cyclone fatalities fall, economic losses on rise
Although the number of casualties that result from tropical cyclones in the country has gradually been decreasing, the economic loss and damage is on the rise. The scenario was revealed at a seminar at Chittagong Press Club on Saturday. Disaster and Development Organisation, a non-government organisation, held the seminar, commemorating cyclone Gorky that ripped through coastal areas on April 29, 1991. The devastating cyclone was one of the world’s major natural disasters in the last century that struck the vulnerable areas with a wind speed of 257km per hour, claiming the lives of as many as 1,38,000 people. It also rendered around 10 million people homeless and damaged properties worth about $1.5 billion. The storm surge, rising to an unusual height of more than six metres above the mean sea level, devastated the whole coastal region with Chittagong being the worst affected area. However, when presenting his paper on tropical cyclones and global warming in the seminar, Dr Edris Alam, an associate professor of geography and environmental studies department at Chittagong University, said the number of casualties caused by cyclones had decreased over the years in the country. He added: “The intensity of tropical cyclones triggered by global warming might increase all over the world. “The category 5 hurricane in 1991 claimed at least 1,38,000 lives, while some 4,234 people died in cyclone Sidr in 2007.” Alam also said there were three formidable challenges for Bangladesh that included maintaining continuity of success in reducing the cyclone-related casualties, rehabilitating the number of environmental refugees, and reducing economic loss caused by cyclones. “The people of coastal regions and islands…have experiences in combating natural disasters. The adaptability and resilience of the people to natural disasters is astonishing,” said Dr Alam. As per historical records and latest data, at least 140 tropical cyclones -- most of which with a wind speed of 100km per hour -- have been formed in the coastal areas between 1484 and 2016. Though only 5% of the world’s total cyclones are formed in the Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh, India and Myanmar suffer 75% of the total casualties. The seminar’s key-note speaker Dr Md Al Amin, a professor of the university’s Institute of Forestry and Environmental Sciences, said that Bangladesh was geographically a cyclone-prone country. “The anthropogenic or man-made causes are largely responsible for natural disasters like tropical cyclone. Although the frequency of tropical cyclone will decrease in the years to come, the intensity will increase,” Prof Amin said. “Natural disasters wipe out all of our development efforts. Therefore, we must construct our infrastructures like house, bridge, culvert and road in such as a way that they can withstand the disasters,” he stressed. “Bangladesh has agreed to cut 5% of carbon emissions and the decision will definitely have a positive impact on mitigating the climate change effects,” the professor hoped.