♦ Lightnings and tree falling kill 6
♦ 4,071 cyclone shelters in 19 districts prepared
♦ Dry food, medicine, drinking water sent to cyclone shelters
♦ 32 Navy ships in operation to rescue people
♦ Thousands still stranded in offshore islands of Noakhali, Bhola
More than 12 lakh people have been evacuated and moved to cyclone shelters in 19 coastal districts as cyclone Fani, the severe most storm to hit the country in 10 years, was charging towards Bangladesh last night, after making landfall in the Eastern Indian coast yesterday morning.
The very severe cyclonic storm, named Fani meaning snake’s hood, lost its speed and strength as it was on its way to West Bangle when this report was filed around 10:00pm.
It is expected to enter Bangladesh early today, according to the Met office.
However, although it was some 500km from Khulna where it will make its first landfall in Bangladesh, Fani has already caused cyclonic storm with a speed of more than 100kmph and five feet high storm surges and caused rainfall almost all over the country.
At least six people reportedly died and seven were injured in lightning and tree falling in different parts of the country.
At least 30 villages in Patuakhali, Bagerhat and Khulna were inundated as storm surges breached earthen embankments and overflew them. Water level was also rising in rivers in those districts.
At least 17 villages in Patuakhali were flooded as dykes in Kalapara, Mirzagonj and Rangabali collapsed on impacts of the tidal surge, said Hasanuzzaman, executive engineer at Patuakhali WDB.
At least three villages in Bagerhat’s Shoronkhola also got flooded.
In Barishal, many boats that went to fishing in the deep sea did not come back till yesterday evening. Standing crops in many areas were also damaged, although the extent of the damage was not immediately clear.
The whole country would experience heavy rainfall and cyclonic storm today. After making landfall in Bangladesh, Fani will move towards Assam.
“Though it became week, it still is a very severe cyclone. The whole country would experience rainfall and cyclonic storm on its impact tomorrow [today],” said Shamsuddin Ahmed, director of the Bangladesh Metrological Department.
Braving the rough weather, members of navy, coastguard, police, Ansar, VDP, volunteers and political party activists shifted lakhs of people to cyclone shelters from vulnerable areas.
The rescue operation began at 10:00am and continued till evening.
“Our target is to evacuate 21 lakh people. But till 6:00pm, we could shift 12.40 lakh people. The rescue work is still on,” Enamur Rahman, state minister for relief and disaster management, told The Daily Star around 9:30pm.
The people were taken to 4,071 cyclone shelters in 19 coastal districts, he added.
Adequate medicine, pure water, dry food and necessary goods as well as medical teams have been sent to all the shelters, said Shah Kamal, senior secretary at the relief and disaster management ministry.
However, tens of thousands of people are still in the off-shore islands in Bhola and Noakhali.
Around 17,000 people were stranded in Dhal Char union of Bhola’s Charfassion as there is no cyclone shelter there, said Abdus Salam, chairman of the union.
Despite the risk, the people there cannot move to the mainland due to rough weather.
There are two concrete buildings in Dhal Char — a police outpost and the union council office — where only 600 people can take shelter, locals said.
Panicked locals were taking shelter in the mangroves to save their lives as the water level was rising, reports our correspondent there.
In Hatia, the cyclone shelters at Hatia Bazar and Ali Bazar were found empty yesterday though the district administration kept those prepared and requested the people to go there, according to our Noakhali correspondent.