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Dhaka Tribune

Cyclone Yaas: Authorities preparing to evacuate 2 million people in Barisal Division

The cyclone is supposed to make landfall in India and Bangladesh over the next two days

Update : 24 May 2021, 07:35 PM

The authorities in the Barisal Division are preparing to evacuate about two million people to safety in the face of a looming threat of cyclone Yaas.

Barisal Divisional Disaster Management Committee had a meeting on Monday regarding disaster preparedness to face the cyclonic storm.

According to the divisional commissioner's office, the district and upazila level administrations have taken preparations to evacuate about two million people in the 4,915 permanent and temporary shelters under the division.

Local officials have been instructed to complete all kinds of preparatory work as soon as possible. In addition, every district administration has already opened a control room to tackle cyclone Yaas. 

Speaking to Dhaka Tribune, Divisional Commissioner Saiful Islam Badal said: “On Sunday there was a meeting with the deputy commissioners of all the districts and the UNOs of all the upazilas in this division over the cyclonic storm. Today [on Monday] we sat with the Divisional Disaster Management Committee.” 

“We don't want any negligence anywhere and the use of masks in the cyclone shelters is mandatory due to Covid-19. We are prepared to face the storm,” he added.

Sources at the divisional commissioner’s office have said that separate locations based on the sizes of families have been selected to ensure social distancing in the shelters.

All sorts of Covid-19 safety facilities would be there, they added.

Also Read - Warning signal 2 issued as Yaas turns into cyclone

According to Upazila administration sources, washrooms and toilets of the cyclone shelters and educational institutions are suitable for use.

Alternative arrangements

Meanwhile, alternative arrangements were being made for potable water and electricity if there is no electricity during the cyclone, reports UNB.

Deputy commissioners of six districts participated in Monday’s meeting.

The divisional commissioner directed the district and upazila administration to look into the remote areas, especially those in Bhola district, where evacuation activities were being carried out. 

Also Read - State Minister: Bangladesh unlikely to be affected by Yaas

Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Barisal Range Shafiqul Alam said: “Usually people do not want to leave their homes out of fear of theft. But they have to be evacuated to a safe place. We will also have to ensure safety and security of their properties in their homes as well as in the cyclone centres.”

“Fishing trawlers have started coming ashore in Bhola,” said Abdur Rashid, Deputy Director of Cyclone Preparedness Program (CPP) (Bhola region). 

Barisal district has a stock of 84 metric tons of rice and a Tk1.5 million fund ready for distribution among locals in times of cyclones.

Adequate quantities of dry food, rice and pulses are being readied, besides possible financial help.

The district administration is in continuous contact with the Disaster Management and Relief Ministry.

Shortage of CPP volunteers

Despite there being 33,400 registered volunteers under the Cyclone Preparedness Program (CPP) in the Barisal Division, only 70 of them are available in the Barisal district. 

This reflects the weakness in cyclone preparedness and rescue work in the district.

According to the divisional office of CPP, Bhola district has the highest number of volunteers – 13,600 of them – whereas Barisal has only 70, the lowest in the division.

“As a result, cyclone preparedness efforts may get hampered in this district, cautioned CPP (Barisal) Deputy Director Md Shahabuddin. 

“He said it was not possible to send such a small number of volunteers to work in the remote areas of Barisal district.”

Divisional Commissioner Badal has said that he has instructed the Barisal deputy commissioner to address this issue immediately.

Earlier on Monday, the maritime ports of Chittagong, Cox’s Bazar, Mongla and Payra were advised to hoist distant warning signal No 2 instead of cautionary No 1 as the depression over the southeast bay and adjoining the Andaman Sea intensified into the cyclonic storm Yaas.

Also Read - Govt opens control room to tackle Cyclone Yaas

The depression over the east-central bay and the adjoining area moved north-westwards and intensified into the cyclonic storm Yaas over the same area.

In a special weather bulletin, the Met Office said at 6am on Monday, it was about 775km south-southwest of Chittagong Port, 605km south-southwest of Cox's Bazar Port, 650km south of Mongla Port, and 605km south of Payra Port.

It is likely to intensify further and move in a north-north-westerly direction.

The sea will remain very rough near the depression centre.

All the fishing boats and trawlers over the North Bay and deep sea have been advised to remain close to the coast and proceed with caution.  

They were also advised not to venture into the deep sea.

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