Cyclone Amphan kills 12 in Bangladesh before turning into land depression

  • News Desk bdnews24.com
    Published: 2020-05-21 12:35:08 BdST

bdnews24
Surging waters broke through an embankment in Satkhira’s Shyamnagar as Cyclone Amphan carved a trail of destruction through Bangladesh on Wednesday. Photo: Tomzid Mollick

Cyclone Amphan has killed at least 12 people in seven coastal districts before turning into a land depression.

Patuakhali, Satkhira, Pirojpur, Bhola and Barguna are among the seven districts where casualties were reported, according to bdnews24.com's district correspondents.

In India, the death toll from the cyclone rose to 12.

Most of the dead were hit by uprooted trees or houses that caved in as the cyclone barrelled into the country from the Bay of Bengal bringing with it strong winds and heavy rainfall. The cyclone moved further inland and weakened gradually.

At least 11 people have received treatment for injuries at Jashore General Hospital since Wednesday evening, its emergency department's Physician Abdur Rashid said.

Three people died in Jashore and Pirojpur while Patuakhali and Jhenaidah registered two fatalities as the cyclone left a trail of destruction across the country's coastal districts. Satkhira, Bhola and Barguna recorded one death each.

In Jashore's Chougachha Upazila, Khanto Begum, 45, and her daughter Rabeya, 13, died when a tree uprooted by the gusting winds fell on their house in Chandpur village. Khanto’s son Al-Amin was also injured in the incident.

Felled trees also caused the death of 65-year-old Nasiman driver Muktar Ali in Jashore and Nadira Begum, 55, from Jhenaidah's Halidhani village late Wednesday.

An unidentified housewife also died in a similar incident in Satkhira's Kamalnagar, according to the district's Deputy Commissioner SM Mostafa Kamal.

Meanwhile, six-year-old 'Rashed' in Patuakhali's Galachipa was crushed to death by a falling tree branch as he was on his way to a cyclone shelter. His mother was injured in the incident.

Siddique Fakir, 70, got injured when a tree fell on him during the storm on Wednesday afternoon in Charfason, Bhola.  He died while receiving treatment in Charfason Upazila Health Complex.

Shahjahan Molla, 55, a native of Pirojpur's Mathbaria, succumbed to his injuries severely injured when a wall crashed on top of him as the storm ripped through the area.

The effects of the violent winds and water surge caused by the cyclone also resulted in the deaths of 70-year-old Gelonur Begum in Pirojpur's Dhupoti village and 50-year-old Shah Alam in Umidpur village.

Meanwhile, an official of the Cyclone Preparedness Programme named Shah Alam drowned when a boat capsized in the rough waters of Chailabunia canal in Patuakhali. Divers recovered his body nine hours later.

In Barguna, Shahidul Islam, 64, a restaurant owner, died from cardiac arrest on his way to the cyclone shelter, said Upazila Nirbahi Officer Masuma Akhter.

The cyclone wreaked havoc as it moved inland through Bangladesh, snapping power lines in parts of the country.

Some of the vulnerable districts, including Chuadanga, Jashore, Barguna and Noakhali have reported the destruction of thatched houses and large tracts of farmlands.

In Chuadanga, the low-lying lands have been submerged in water, causing heavy damage to crops, according to farmers. Hundreds of betel leaf yards collapsed in their village, said Rakib Hossain, a farmer in Taltala, Chuadanga.

A large number of trees have fallen over a 3 km stretch of the Jashore-Satkhira Highway, bringing traffic to a halt since Wednesday night. It will take at least a day to remove the fallen trees, said Asaduzzaman, general secretary of Satmail Shajik Banayan Samity.

In Barguna, fisheries worth Tk 1 million and crops across 200 acres of land were inundated by the storm surge, which rose up to 11 feet.

A cattle farm in Barguna's Taltali Upazila incurred damage worth Tk 250,000, while 800 chickens died in another poultry farm.

Parts of Hatiya Upazila in Noakhali were also under water due to a tidal surge on Wednesday.

Concern was growing over flooding in the Sundarbans, an ecologically-fragile region straddling the Indian-Bangladesh border, best known for thick mangrove forests and its tiger reserve, as the cyclone bore down on the coast, reports Reuters.

"The tidal surge submerged some part of the forest," Belayet Hossain, a forest official on the Bangladesh side of the forest, is quoted as saying by Reuters. "We have seen trees uprooted, the tin-roofs of the guard towers blown off," he said.

Over on the Indian side of the Sundarbans, a village official said embankments surrounding a low-lying island, where some 5,000 people live, had been washed away, and he had been unable to contact authorities for help.

"We have not been able to inform them about anything since last night, the official, Sanjib Sagar, told Reuters.

MASS EVACUATIONS

Authorities in both countries managed to evacuate more than three million people, moving them to storm shelters before Amphan struck. But the evacuation effort was focused on communities that lay directly in the cyclone's path, leaving villages on the flanks still vulnerable.

Television images showed upturned boats on the shore, people wading through knee-deep water and buses crashed into each other. The airport in Kolkata, West Bengal's state capital, lay under water and several neighbourhoods in the city of 14 million people have had no electricity since the storm struck, according to residents.

Pradip Kumar Dalui, an official in the state's South 24 Parganas area, said storm waters breached river embankments in several places, flooding over half a dozen villages that were home to more than 100,000 people.

"Many mud houses have been destroyed because of the wind or fallen trees," Dalui told Reuters by telephone. Electricity lines and phone connections were down in many places, but so far no deaths had been reported in this area, he said.

The cyclone came at a time when the two countries are battling to stop the spread of the coronavirus, and some evacuees were initially reluctant to leave their homes for fear of possible infection in the packed storm shelters.

Cyclones frequently batter parts of eastern India and Bangladesh between April and December, often forcing the evacuations of tens of thousands and causing widespread damage.

With additional details from Reuters