At least 7 die as millions evacuated
The extremely severe cyclone Amphan made landfall in the coastal regions of Bangladesh around 4pm Wednesday.
At the time of filing of this report at 10:30pm, the cyclone was crossing through West Bengal and was moving towards the north or north-western area of India, according to the Bangladesh Meteorological Department.
In Bangladesh, a portion of Amphan would continue to move towards the land from the sea, encompassing a large area across the coastline. However, at the same time, it is expected to lose its might due to rainfall, according to meteorologists.
Two fatalities were reported in coastal areas till 8:30pm, said State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Dr Enamur Rahman.
However, Dhaka Tribune’s district correspondents reported seven deaths till 10:30pm. One in Satkhira, two in Bhola, and two in Patuakhali, one in Pirojpur, and one in Barguna.
A weakened cyclone is expected to proceed towards Magura, Gopalganj, Rajbari, Sirajganj, all the way to Jamalpur between 12-1am, said sources from the meteorology department.
The impact of the cyclone would be felt as heavy rainfall will continue on Thursday.
The government evacuated 2.4 million people to shelter centres to ensure their safety.
Amphan’s eye crossed over from the Bay of Bengal to the West Bengal-Bangladesh coast (east of Sagar island) at about 4pm and lay over the coastal part of the Sundarbans area belonging to both India and Bangladesh.
BMD Meteorologist Shahinul Islam told Dhaka Tribune: “Arms of Amphan reached the coast after 4pm today [Wednesday].”
The coastal districts of West Bengal faced the brunt of the storm with a wind speed of 160kmph and gust up to 185kmph, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake.
The cyclonic storm moved in a north-northeasterly direction further and completely crossed the coast in three to four hours, said BMD.
Sources said seven to eight feet high tidal waves hit Mongla and Satkhira areas as the cyclone’s front portion hit the area in the afternoon. Satkhira and Mongla faced wind speeds of 115kmph.
Rain lashed most parts of the country, especially the coastal districts.
Dakkhin Chabbish Pargana district of India was affected the most as the cyclone claimed at least two lives, according to Indian media reports.
The cyclone hampered the power distribution system in the coastal areas of the country. More than a million users of the Rural Electrification Board faced disruption of power, officials said. In many places, electric lines were torn as poles fell due to the storm.
‘Coastal population vulnerable’
Disaster Science and Management Professor at Dhaka University ASM Maksud Kamal told Dhaka Tribune: “Although the eye of the cyclone Amphan is not passing through Bangladesh, the people in the coastal areas will suffer from its impact.”
“Over 100kmph wind speed is covering almost 175-200km area inside from the coastal border while its diameter from the centre is between 350-400km,” said Maksud, also the dean of Earth and Environmental Sciences faculty in DU.
He added: “Huge tidal surges will affect the agricultural lands and create a crisis for drinking water as saltwater would mix with plain land water.”
Sajedul Hasan, director of Humanitarian Crisis Management Program of Brac and Brac International, said : “How the crisis could have been managed and how destructive the cyclone is can be measured after the storm ends.”
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina assured that the government arranged necessary measures to fight the extremely severe cyclone.
2.4 million evacuated to shelter centres
A total of 2,390,307 were evacuated to 14,636 shelter centres from the coastal districts to keep them safe from the adverse effects of Cyclone Amphan.
The state minister for disaster management and relief, at a virtual press conference yesterday, said that 517,432 cattle were also taken to the shelters.
Army, navy, coast guard, and officials from different ministries, including the Local Government, Rural Development, and Co-operatives Ministry took part in the evacuation process, he said.
“Deputy Commissioners [DCs] are providing cooked food for the shelters from the public aid meant for May 18. DCs were given 60-100 million tons of rice each and Tk10 lakhs. They will spend the money, if necessary,” he added.
“Necessary medical teams and electricity supply, including solar power, is being made available. Personal protection equipment [PPE], masks, and sanitizers are being provided in the centres.
“We are using three times more shelter to maintain physical distancing,” the state minister said.
Rohingyas sheltered in Bhashan Char
Three hundred Rohingyas, who were recently rescued from the Bay of Bengal and were kept in Bhashan Char permanently, have now been moved to a single shelter inside the char.
“There are 120 cyclone shelters in Bhashan Char. All the Rohingya people currently living in the char were taken to a single cyclone shelter. Bangladesh Navy is taking care of them. All the facilities needed are being provided to them,” Enamur said.
1,933 medical teams deployed
The Health Services Division has deployed 1,933 medical teams to provide emergency medical support in the coastal areas following the landfall of Cyclone Amphan.
Habibur Rahman Khan, additional secretary of the Health Services Division, said: “About 1,212 medical teams have been readied for the coastal districts of Chittagong division, 418 teams for Barisal division, and 301 teams for Khulna division. All teams are ready to serve the people of the coastal areas.
“They can tackle the emergency situation. We have also sent necessary medicine and water purifying tablets to the coastal districts” he said.
Bangladesh Meteorological Department had asked to hoist great danger signal 10 in maritime ports of Mongla and Payra and signal 9 for Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar ports.
The coastal districts of Noakhali, Feni, Chittagong, and Cox’s Bazar, their offshore islands and chars were put under great danger signal number nine.