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Cyclone Remal Forces Nearly a Million to Evacuate in Bangladesh and India

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Cyclone Remal's landfall in Bangladesh has led to nearly a million people evacuating to safer areas, with significant impacts also seen in neighboring India. Learn about the extensive measures taken and the tragic incidents amid this powerful storm.

A powerful cyclone named Remal made landfall in Bangladesh on Sunday, prompting the evacuation of nearly a million people to safer areas inland. Authorities in both Bangladesh and neighboring India have taken extensive measures to mitigate the impact of the storm.

Azizur Rahman, director of Bangladesh's meteorological department, confirmed that 'Intense Cyclone Remal has begun to cross the coast.' So far, wind speeds have reached 90 kilometers per hour, categorizing Remal as a tropical storm. However, gusts of up to 130 kilometers per hour were also detected, leading to concerns about exacerbated devastation.

Cyclones have been a significant threat to Bangladesh, claiming hundreds of thousands of lives over the decades. The frequency of these storms has surged from one to three annually, largely attributed to climate change. 'The cyclone could trigger a storm surge of up to four meters above the normal astronomical tide, which can be dangerous,' senior meteorology official Muhammad Abul Kalam Mallik warned. Given that most of Bangladesh's coastal regions are merely one to two meters above sea level, the threat is especially dire.

'We are terrified,' said Yusuf Fakir, a fisherman from Kuakata, a town directly in the storm's path. While Yusuf decided to stay back to protect his belongings, he sent his wife and children to a relative's home inland. This sentiment echoes the fears of many in the region, leading to widespread evacuations.

In Bangladesh, at least 800,000 residents fled their coastal villages. In India, over 50,000 people in the Sundarbans mangrove swamp, where the Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Meghna rivers converge, have moved inland. Unfortunately, the evacuation efforts were marred by tragic incidents. Thirteen individuals were injured after an overcrowded ferry sank near Mongla, and one person drowned in rough seas.

Authorities raised the cyclone alert level to its maximum, urging fishermen to avoid the sea and ordering evacuations from all 'unsafe and vulnerable' homes. 'People have been ordered to evacuate unsafe and vulnerable homes,' Kamrul Hasan, disaster management secretary, stated. Approximately 4,000 shelters have been set up along the long coastline of the Bay of Bengal for the evacuees.

Precautionary measures extended to major infrastructures, with Bangladesh's three seaports and Chittagong airport being closed. In India, Kolkata airport was also shut down from Sunday midday until Monday morning in anticipation of strong winds and heavy rain.

  • Additional measures were taken by mobilizing tens of thousands of volunteers who worked tirelessly to spread awareness about the impending danger. This on-the-ground assistance was critical in ensuring the safety of hundreds of thousands of residents.
  • The cyclone, expected to affect a stretch up to 220 kilometers from India's Sagar Island to Khepupara in Bangladesh, necessitated these sweeping emergency responses. Authorities are closely monitoring the situation and coordinating relief efforts to manage the aftermath of the storm effectively.
  • These precautionary actions illustrate a growing regional readiness to address natural disasters, attributed to advancements in meteorological forecasting and better-managed disaster response systems. Despite these improvements, the increased frequency and intensity of cyclones underscore the urgent need to tackle the underlying issue of climate change.
Clam Reports
Refs: | Le Parisien | Clarin |

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