Coastal people take refuge in cyclone shelters

People from the coastal areas, especially from the most vulnerable regions – such as chars and lowlands in the country – rushed towards cyclone centres all through the day before powerful cyclone Amphan hit the coastal region of Bangladesh on Wednesday evening.

According to reports sent by our different district correspondents, the administrations of coastal districts including Khulna, Patuakhali, Barguna, Bhola, Pirojpur, Barishal, Satkhira, and Bagerhat have already made preparations to face Cyclone Amphan.

The authorities asked people to take shelter in cyclone centres and provided them with masks, soap and dry food.
Cyclone Amphan, which came in through the south-eastern Bay of Bengal and adjoining south-western Bay of Bengal, got stronger as it gradually turned into a Category 4 cyclone by conserving energy.

The maximum wind speed within the 85 km hurricane center went from 210-220 km per hour resulting in gusty winds.
Heavy rains started in Mongla due to the impact of cyclone Amphan. The rains started just after 4 pm on Tuesday (May 19). However, the wind speed was low.

Since in view of this, the Mongla seaport showed danger signal 10 yesterday (Wednesday, May 20) due to the approaching cyclone.
Extensive preparations had been made in Mongla to protect it from the damage caused by Cyclone Amphan in the Bay of Bengal.

The meteorological office issued a warning signal and the port authorities instructed 11 merchant ships stationed at the port to have a safe haven. All the lighter ships scattered in the channels and creeks buoy area and took safe position in the afternoon as per the instructions of Bangladesh Navy and Coast Guard.

Mongla Upazila Nirbahi Officer Mohammad Rahat Mannan said that 103 cyclone shelters have been prepared. He added, “All residents of the risky areas had been asked to take shelter in the cyclone shelter while maintaining social distance.”

Meanwhile, the forest department said that all the trawlers stationed at sea have taken up position safely near the coast. In addition, eight naval and coast guard warships are stationed at the port jetty.

Rear Admiral M Shahjahan, Chairman, Mongla Port Authority, said that all the preparations and port authorities are ready to deal with the situation after the cyclone.

Meanwhile in Barguna, the tidal waters of the new moon have inundated cities and villages. Five points of the Water Development Board in Baraitala area of Dhalua Union have been breached due to which water has already entered the rural areas from Bishkhali river.

This situation is prevailing in Barguna at present due to the effect of Amphan on the one hand and increase in the water pressure of the new moon tide on the other.

Black clouds in the sky with occasional heavy rain and gusts of wind were observed. At night, the Barguna district administration distributed cooked food among the flood victims in 610 shelters in the district.

In Noakhali’s Hatia, due to the impact of cyclone Amphan, several areas have been inundated by tidal water. Several embankments of four unions of the upazila were breached from 1pm on Wednesday.

According to the upazila administration and local sources, light wind started blowing in the upazila from morning due to the impact of cyclone Amphan. It also rained heavily around noon.

At one stage, the tidal water in the river started rising from 1 pm. As a result, several embankments of Sukhchar, Nalchira, Charishwar and Nijhumdwip Union were breached.

At least 20 villages have been submerged due to the tidal water. Some of these areas have been submerged up to the ground floor of some cyclone shelters. Several mud houses in the flooded areas are said to have been washed away. However, there were no casualties until the time of this report.

Rashed Uddin, acting chairman of Charashwar Union, said more than 500 houses inside and outside the embankment were submerged in tidal water. However, no casualties were reported as people were evacuated earlier.

In the East Sundarbans, Divisional Forest Officer Belayet Hossain said about 2,000 fishermen inside the Sundarbans have already taken shelter in various canals in the forest. In addition, forest officials and employees who are in remote areas of the forest have been asked to take shelter.

In Bagerhat, since Wednesday (May 20) morning, after the announcement of the danger signal number 10, panic spread among the people in the coastal areas of the district.

Ordinary people in the coastal areas came to the shelter with the necessary items including cattle. As many as 2.5 lakh people, including women, children and the elderly, and 30,000 cattle took shelter in 98 shelters in Bagerhat till 5:30 pm on Wednesday, according to Bagerhat district administration sources.

Abdul Hai, a resident of Bagi village on the banks of Baleshwar river of Sharankhola upazila, said, “We live on the banks of Baleshwar river. After receiving the news of the flood, I went to the shelter at night. I am crammed there ignoring the fear of coronavirus infection. I heard that 10 feet of water will rise as a result of the storm. Then our houses, cattle will be washed away.”

Due to the cyclone Amphan, several places of Morelganj, Sharankhola and Mongla upazilas including Bagerhat Sadar have been flooded. Water can enter the locality at any time by overflowing the risky embankment of 35/1 polder of Water Development Board in Bogi and Gabtala areas of Southkhali Union of Sharankhola Upazila.

Bagerhat Deputy Commissioner Mamunur Rashid said, "We have made extensive preparations with the news of cyclone Amphan. Already two and a half lakh people and 30,000 cattle have been raised in the shelter. The number of people in the shelters is increasing over time. In addition, due to the coronavirus situation, we are working to ensure the social distance of the shelters.”

The shelters have been estimated to be able to house 4 lakh 6 thousand 26 people and about 75 thousand heads of cattle.
Also, masks, gloves and hand sanitizers were distributed among the people who have taken shelter in the centers.
In Satkhira, the water level in the rivers of the coastal areas of the district increased as compared to the normal tide.

It has been raining intermittently since Tuesday evening. Strong wind is blowing. Panic has gripped locals over dilapidated embankments in coastal areas. Meanwhile, to reduce the possible damage from the storm, 159,000 people have been evacuated from the Satkhira coast till 12 midnight on Tuesday and taken to safety shelters.

Satkhira Deputy Commissioner SM Mostafa Kamal said the total number of shelters in the district is 1845. Among them, 205 in AsashuniUpazila, 147 in DebhataUpazila, 283 in KalaroaUpazila, 275 in Kaliganj, 391 in SatkhiraSadar, 368 in Shyamnagar and 177 in Tala. The shelters have a capacity of 750,000 people. Locations have been arranged at each shelter maintaining social distance. The shelter is equipped with masks and soaps, and an isolation room.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday morning, the Meteorological Department has issued Danger Signal No 10 in Satkhira, Mongla and Payra ports and adjoining areas.Even then, many did not want to leave their homes and come to the shelter. Although the administration is using maximum force to bring them to the shelter. Microphone announcements are being made non-stop. CPP members, as well as the administration, police, navy, coast guard and fire service, are doing their utmost to take people to safety shelters.

Shyamnagar Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) ANM Abujar Ghiffari said about 8,000 people had been evacuated from the most dangerous Gabura in Satkhira. The rest have taken refuge in schools, mosques and other paved safe buildings, including the Cyclone Shelter in Gabura. In all, 80,000 people have been brought to the shelter from the coastal areas of Shyamnagar till 12 last night.

In addition, sandbags are being dumped to protect the risky embankments. Adequate dry food, iftar and sehri have already been provided at the shelters.

Deputy Commissioner SM Mostafa Kamal said 159,000 people had been evacuated from the Satkhira coast till 12 midnight on Tuesday. Every effort is being made to ensure that no one is left out of the shelter.

250 metric tons of rice has already been allocated for disaster relief operations. Maximum efforts are being made to maintain physical distance including distribution of soap, masks and other items in the shelters.