Cyclone Bulbul lost strength and entered Bangladesh through the Sundarbans in Khulna around midnight yesterday, after making landfall at Sagar Island in the southern part of India’s West Bengal.
The cyclone left at least five people injured in Bhola’s Lalmohan upazila and Char Hardinge. Around 15 houses were damaged in the upazila, said fire service sources.
Mahmudur Hasan, divisional forest officer in the Sundarbans (East), early today said the cyclone’s eye crossed the Bangladesh coast with low tide in the Bay.
The wind speed was between 100 and 120 km per hour at that time, according to the Met office.
In a special bulletin around 11:00pm, the Met office had said “Bulbul” weakened into a “severe” cyclone from a “very severe” one and moved northeast at a speed of about 8kph.
It started crossing the West Bengal-Khulna coast near the Sundarbans around 9:00pm, according to the bulletin.
The Met office also said the storm was likely to pass through Cumilla and move towards India’s Tripura today.
Since yesterday morning, the Bay had been rough due to the cyclone. Many areas across the country, including the capital, experienced rain throughout the day.
At least 151 fishermen from Bhola, Barguna and Patuakhali, who had gone to the sea, were missing till last night.
State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Md Enamur Rahman said around 21 lakh people were evacuated to more than 5,500 cyclone centres in 14 districts, including Satkhira, Bhola, Barguna, Patuakhali, Barishal, Pirojpur, Jhalakathi, Bagerhat and Khulna.
Ministry sources said more than 55,000 volunteers worked for the evacuation in the districts.
Our correspondents reported that using megaphones, the volunteers requested people to move to the centres throughout the day.
Many, however, did not go, fearing that their valuables, livestock and other belongings would be stolen.
Tarok Biswas, who lives in Pankhali village of Khulna’s Dacope upazila, said, “I can’t leave my home. All our cattle would be stolen. My family will go, I will stay.”
Meanwhile, more than 30,000 people were stuck in different char areas of Patuakhali, Barguna and Bagerhat, said district administration sources.
Over 1,000 tourists, including students of Rajshahi University’s journalism department, were stranded on St Martin’s Island.
While talking to reporters, Ayesha Khatun, deputy director of the Dhaka Met office, said the cyclone would trigger tidal surges 5 to 7 feet higher than the usual ones, inundating low lying areas in the coastal region.
Asked about the severity of the cyclone, she said it could be stronger than Cyclone Aila and weaker than Super Cyclone Sidr.
The highest wind speed of Sidr that hit Bangladesh coast in November 2007 was recorded in Patuakhali at 223kmph.
Earlier yesterday, the maritime ports of Mongla and Payra were advised to keep hoisted Great Danger Signal Number 10. It meant the port could experience a storm of great intensity with wind speed of 89km per hour or more.
The signal was meant for coastal areas of Bhola, Barguna, Patuakhali, Barishal, Pirojpur, Jhalakathi, Bagerhat, Khulna, Satkhira and their offshore islands and chars, according to the Met office.
The Chattogram port was advised to keep hoisted Great Danger Signal Number 9.
Great Danger Signal Number 9 was also meant for coastal districts of Chattogram, Noakhali, Laxmipur, Feni, Chandpur and their offshore islands and chars.
The maritime port of Cox’s Bazar was advised to keep hoisted local warning signal number four.
All the fishing boats were asked to remain moored until further advice.
Disaster Management Senior Secretary Md Shah Kamal said army troops and members of the coastguard were called out to supplement the cyclone preparedness initiatives, alongside Red Crescent volunteers and members of government agencies, including police.
The evacuation drive was underway in 14 districts -- Bhola, Barguna, Patuakhali, Barishal, Pirojpur, Jhalakathi, Bagerhat, Khulna, Satkhira, Chattogram, Noakhali, Feni, Laxmipur and Chandpur, and their offshore islands and chars.
“In most vulnerable areas, including chars, we are trying to help people move out along with their valuables and cattle,” he said.
Kamal said the evacuees were being provided with dry food while “we have enough stock of relief materials for them,” while nearly 1,600 medical teams were kept ready to treat the cyclone victims.
The ISPR said the navy prepared two war ships equipped with medical facilities and relief materials to launch rescue drives.
State Minister Md Enamur Rahman said army troops were ready as part of the government preparedness for the cyclone.
“We have adequate stock of food . . . the local administration, army troops and volunteers are ready to face the cyclone impact,” he said.
FLIGHT SERVICE, WATER TRANSPORT SUSPENDED
All flights to and from Cox’s Bazar, Chattogram, Barisal and Jashore were cancelled owing to the inclement weather.
Flight operations would remain suspended at Chattogram and Cox’s Bazar airports from 4:00pm yesterday to 6:00am today, said sources there.
Due to heavy currents and gusty wind, the authorities suspended ferry operations on the Paturia-Daulatdia route on the Padma, said Zillur Rahman, acting deputy general manager of BIWTC (Paturia Ghat).
Around 20 buses and 50 goods-laden trucks remained stranded at the ghat last night, he said.
Also, ferry services on the Shimulia-Kathalbari route in the Padma river remained suspended. The authorities of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation (BIWTC) suspended operations of water transport from capital to Southern districts yesterday afternoon.
The Junior School Certificate (JSC) and Junior Dakhil Certificate (JDC) examinations scheduled for Monday were postponed due to the cyclone.
An education ministry release said the JSC exam would take place on November 13 and JDC on November 16.
Earlier in the evening, Cyclone Bulbul hit India, leaving two dead. Indian media reported that one person was killed by an uprooted tree in Kolkata and another by a wall that collapsed under the force of the winds in Odisha state, authorities said.