Amphan slams into the coast | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 21, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:24 AM, May 21, 2020

Amphan slams into the coast

Heavy rains, tidal surges up to 9 feet; at least 5 die; 50 lakh without electricity; over 24 lakh people moved to cyclone shelters

More than 24 lakh people were moved to safety in 19 coastal districts as Cyclone Amphan bore down on the country's coast yesterday afternoon, causing heavy rains and tidal surges up to nine feet.

The cyclone claimed at least five lives in Bhola, Barguna, Patuakhali and Pirojpur.

The extent of damage could not be assessed immediately. Over 50 lakh subscribers were left without electricity in a dozen districts as Amphan battered the country's south-western part.

"The cyclone made landfall on the Digha coast in India yesterday afternoon and then moved towards Bangladesh through the south-western part," Shamsuddin Ahmed, director of Bangladesh Meteorological Department, told The Daily Star.

In a tweet, the Indian Meteorological Department said the cyclone made landfall on the Digha coast around 2:30pm (local time).

Bangladesh Met office said Amphan hit the country's coast around 5:00pm and kept moving inwards with gusts of up to 160 kilometre per hour. The wind speed in Satkhira was recorded at 151 kmph around 9:00pm.

Talking to The Daily Star yesterday evening, Enamur Rahman, state minister for disaster management and relief, said, "A total of 24,08,819 people took refuge in 14,636 cyclone shelters till 3:00pm." They also brought more than five lakh cattle to the shelters.

The country never saw evacuation of this scale during any natural disaster, mentioned Enamur.

"The districts near the Sundarbans -- Satkhira, Bagerhat and Khulna -- could be affected badly by the cyclone," the minister added.

Amphan, formed in the Bay of Bengal on Saturday, turned into a super cyclone within just 18 hours on Monday. But it gradually weakened and became an extremely severe cyclone.

Yet, it made landfall with a wind speed of 160 kmph and caused tidal surges up to nine feet in some coastal areas. Hundreds of villages were inundated in Bhola, Patuakhali, Barguna, Khulna, Bagerhat and Satkhira. And tidal surges battered the char areas in Barguna, Patuakhali, Bhola, Barishal and Laxmipur.

Almost all the coastal districts experienced rain and strong wind since early yesterday due to the influence of Amphan. It started raining heavily in the evening, reported our correspondents from different districts.

Dhaka and its adjacent districts also experienced gusty wind and rain since yesterday afternoon.

Many low-lying areas of Barishal, Chattogram and Khulna went under water due to tidal surges. In some areas, onrushing water breached protection embankments.

Barishal Divisional Commissioner Mohammad Yamin Chowdhury said scores of low-lying areas in the district went under three to four-foot-deep water.

The areas include Dhal Char, Char Nijam and Char Kalatali of Bhola; several villages of Rangabali and Galachipa upazilas of Patuakhali; and Majhir Char of Pirojpur.

The Meghna, Bhola, Baleshwar, Bishkhali and Paira rivers were flowing above the danger mark at several points in Patuakhali, Barguna and Bagerhat, said Water Development Board officials.

"Some areas in Rangabali and Galachipa upazilas got flooded due to overflow of rivers," said Md Hasanuzzaman, executive engineer at the WDB Patuakhali Circle.

Different areas in Dacope and Koira upazilas of Khulna were also flooded as Rupsha, Shibshar and Pashur rivers were flowing above the danger level.

Onrushing water overflowed the protection embankment in Dakkhin Betkashi of Koira, said locals many of whom were seen putting sandbags on the embankment.

"We don't think it will work," said Harendranath Sarkar, Ward-9 member of Koira Sadar union.

Our correspondents in Khulna and Barishal divisions reported that people in the districts were experiencing power cuts and disruption of mobile network since yesterday evening.

THE DEATHS

Shah Alam, the leader of a team of Red Crescent volunteers, drowned as a boat capsized in a canal in Patuakhali's Kalapara upazila yesterday morning.

The body of the 40-year-old man was found around 6:00pm, said Asaduzzaman, assistant director of Kalapara Cyclone Preparedness Programme.

In the same district, a five-year-old boy was killed as a tree branch fell on him while he was on his way to a cyclone centre.

The victim was identified as Rashed, son of Shah Alam from Galachipa upazila, said Upazila Nirbahi Officer Shah Md Rafiqul Islam.

In Bhola, an elderly man was killed in a similar way in Charfashion in the afternoon.

A tree fell on Siddikur Rahman, 70, as he stepped out of his house. He died on the spot, said Mohammed Masud Alam Siddique, deputy commissioner of Bhola.

Besides, 50-year-old Shajahan Molla, a farmer from Pirojpur, was killed in a mudslide during the cyclone. Another elderly person died on the way to a cyclone shelter in Barguna early yesterday.

NO ELECTRICITY

Nearly 50 lakh subscribers of Bangladesh Rural Electrification Board (BREB) in a dozen districts were left without electricity due to the cyclone, said BERB officials.

The districts include Khulna, Bagerhat, Satkhira, Barishal, Patuakhali, Pirojpur, Laxmipur, Jashore, Barguna and Noakhali.

Many of the subscribers had no electricity since yesterday evening, BREB Chairman Major General Moin Uddin (Retd) told The Daily Star around 9:30pm.

Moreover, around three lakh customers of West Zone Power Distribution Company in Barishal Division were left without electricity, said its Executive Engineer Amullo Kumar Sarkar.

CTG, MONGLA PORTS

Great danger signal 9 was hoisted at the Chattogram port due to Amphan, said Md Omar Faruk, secretary at Chattogram Port Authority.

Loading and unloading of goods at jetties as well as lighterage of goods from big vessels at the outer anchorage had been suspended since Monday evening. Delivery of goods was also suspended yesterday evening.

All 19 vessels from the berths and more than 50 vessels from the outer anchorage were sent to the deep sea by yesterday noon, said the port secretary.

At the Mongla port, 11 foreign ships were moved to safe locations away from the port, said Harbourmaster Sheikh Fakhruddin.

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