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Millions left without power after cyclone 'Remal' strikes Bangladesh's coasts, 10 killed | VIDEO

The cyclone damaged or destroyed thousands of households, farms and river protection dams as 10 people were killed in Bangladesh. Authorities were forced to snap power lines in several parts to avoid accidents, while fallen trees in coastal areas further disrupted electricity supply.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Dhaka Published on: May 28, 2024 9:16 IST
A boy wades through water during heavy rain amid Cyclone
Image Source : REUTERS A boy wades through water during heavy rain amid Cyclone Remal in Bangladesh.

Dhaka: The severe cyclone 'Remal' struck the coasts of Bangladesh on Monday with devastating winds of up to 120 kph, killing at least 10 people in the country and six in neighbouring India and inundating thousands of households, shrimp farms and river protection dams, according to officials. The winds had not stopped as night fell, with water rising in many places and overwhelming drainage systems, Bangladeshi climate expert Liakath Ali said.

Cyclone Remal is the first of the frequent storms expected to pound the low-lying coasts of the South Asian neighbours this year as climate change drives up surface temperatures at sea. Nearly 29,500 houses in 24 blocks and 79 municipal wards, mostly in the south coastal areas of West Bengal, were partially or entirely damaged by the cyclone. Out of the damaged houses, 27,000 suffered partial damage, while 2,500 were completely destroyed, officials said.

At least 10 people were killed in Bangladesh as some victims died en route to shelters or when their homes or walls collapsed, or drowned during the storm, said the country's disaster management chief Mijanur Rahman. "People are usually very reluctant to leave their livestock and homes to go to cyclone shelters," he said. "They wait until the last minute when it is often too late."

More than 8.4 million people, including 3.2 million children, are at high health, nutrition, sanitation and safety risk, said Sheldon Yett, UNICEF Representative to Bangladesh. State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Mohibbur Rahman said the cyclone destroyed nearly 35,000 homes across 19 districts. An additional 115,000 homes were partially damaged.

Millions without power in Bangladesh

Bangladesh's Met Department said 'Remal' weakened into a cyclonic storm, sustaining wind speeds of 80-90 kilometres per hour, following landfall around midnight of Sunday. The weather system, which lay 150 km northeast of Sagar Island at 5:30 am, brought torrential rain and moved northeastwards to weaken further into a cyclonic storm.

Officials and journalists in coastal areas said that of those deceased, some drowned while others were crushed when their houses collapsed. According to the Met Office, southwestern Patuakhali town was the worst hit by the severe storm, as wind speeds rose to 111 kph, flooding huge infrastructure including houses.

Bangladesh shut down electricity supply to some areas in advance to avoid accidents, while in many coastal towns fallen trees and snapped electricity lines further disrupted supply, power ministry officials said. There are nearly three million people in Bangladesh who are currently living without electricity, officials added. The cyclone-driven surges also breached a major town protection embankment on Manpura Island, inundating most parts of the island.

Bangladeshi State Minister for Power and Energy Nasrul Hamid said in a Facebook post that Remal has caused extensive damage nationwide, urging people to be patient as repairs were underway. "Our crews began repairing the lines as soon as the wind speed subsided," he said. The cyclone also disrupted around 10,000 telecom towers, leaving millions without mobile service.

Heavy downpours continued in several parts of Bangladeshi country, including the capital, which also suffered from electricity disruptions. Phone services were inoperative as people could not recharge their devices as they were cut off from electricity. In some areas, power outages lasted as long as 12 hours, even as workers are preparing to restore the connections once the storm subsided.

Biswanath Sikder, chief engineer (planning and operation) of the Bangladesh Rural Electrification Board, said a total of about 15 million people in the affected coastal areas were without power. The storm on Sunday forced authorities to close the country's three seaports and the airport in the second-largest city Chattogram.

Damage caused by Remal in West Bengal

Rain also flooded many streets in the Indian city of Kolkata, with reports of wall collapses and at least 52 fallen trees. Kolkata resumed flights after more than 50 were cancelled from Sunday. Suburban train services were also restored. Six persons — one in Kolkata, two women in South 24 Parganas district, one in Panihati in North 24 Parganas district and a father-son duo in Memari in Purba Medinipur — lost their lives due to the cyclone.

The cyclone-damaged areas include Kakdwip, Namkhana, Sagard Island, Diamond Harbour, Fraserganj, Bakkhali and Mandarmani. There were minor breaches of embankments due to the cyclone, said an official, adding that those were repaired immediately. 2,140 trees were uprooted, and about 1,700 electric poles fell in various parts of the state, he added.

The administration evacuated over 2 lakh people to safer locations and relief camps. Minor breaches in embankments were promptly repaired, and no major breaches were reported. More than 1,400 relief camps are providing cooked meals and essential supplies to those affected. The cyclone devastated fragile dwellings, uprooted trees, and toppled electric poles.

(with inputs from agencies)

ALSO READ | Cyclone Remal: Death count rises to 6, over 29,000 houses damaged in Bengal, 10 killed in Bangladesh


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