Weakened further and bearing down on the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) over Sitakunda of Chittagong on Thursday afternoon, Cyclone ‘Mahasen’ killed at least five people in three districts during its morning fury.
The deaths were reported from Barguna, Bhola and Patuakhali districts where the tropical storm also damaged several hundred houses.
In Barguna, three people were killed and over 100 houses destroyed when the tropical cyclone buffeted the district.
The deceased were identified as Syed Ali, 60, of Ranipur village, Abir, 6, of Bakultali village in Betagi upazila, and Chand Mia, 70, of Amkhola village in Paltali upazila.
In Patuakhali, Siraj Akand, 80, died of heart attack at a cyclone centre at Balakathi village in Sadar upazila in the morning.
Over 500 houses were damaged when Mahasen shattered several villages in Rangabali upazila.
In Bhola, a man was killed as a tree crushed down on him at Dhanigour village in Lalmohan upazila on Thursday morning.
The deceased, Kashem, 65, a resident of the village, met the tragic end of his life while he was going to a cyclone shelter.
Though the cyclone is moving at a speed of 25 kph, winds are lashing the regions packing a maximum speed of 100 kph under its influence.
Earlier, the cyclone made a landfall in Bangladesh through Khepupara coast of Patuakhali in the morning. Later, it passed over Feni and Noakhali regions at noon.
While briefing reporters at the Met Office at 12:30pm, its director Shah Alam said the storm was blowing over Feni and Noakhali regions, changing the way over Khepupara of Patuakhali and Bhola regions, with a speed of 25 kph while 80 kph in the cyclone eye (centre of the storm).
The official also said the cyclone would end its crossing over Bangladesh territory within 3-5 hours. “Due to having higher rainfall in the coastal districts, it would successively be weakening,” the official added.
The other coastal districts which were under danger signal number 7 and 5 are primarily out of danger, M Abdul Alim, another official said earlier.
The official also said the storm started moving towards the coastal areas, mainly Khepupara of the district, at 8am.
Meanwhile, gusty winds accompanied by rains are sweeping the other coastal areas since morning. The additional heavy rainfall from the cyclone would likely to produce widespread flooding of both coastal and inland areas and possible mudslides.
The United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs said the cyclone has already hit the costal belts of Sri Lanka, killing at least seven people and affecting thousands others. But it did not make landfall in Sri Lanka. It said about 8.2 million people in northeast India, Bangladesh and Myanmarwould be affected, adding Bangladesh’s Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar areas could face the worst of a tidal surge and heavy rains.
The people of the country’s coastal regions huddled in shelter centres from the storm.
Earlier on Wednesday, all airports, seaports and educational institutions in the regions have been shut after the maritime ports of Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar advised to hoist danger signal number seven.
Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) suspended the operation of vessels and ferries on long routes till further notice.
Meanwhile, all activities at the Chittagong Seaport were suspended following the issuance of the danger signal number 7. The authorities also issued ‘alert-3’ at the port.
All ships staying at the main jetty and mooring moved away to the outer anchorage for safety. Chittagong and Karnaphuli EPZs were declared closed for an indefinite period.
Important equipment were shifted from the local bases of Bangladesh Air Force and Bangladesh Navy to avoid possible destruction. Besides, the bogies and wagons of trains were taken to safer places from different railway stations.
The government took all-out measures to shield possible loss of lives and property from the cyclone. Some 2,968 permanent and temporary shelter centres were ready in the coastal districts for the locals to take shelter there.