Saturday, January 18, 2020 12:44:15 PM
Staff Reporter :
The Sundarbans shielded Bangladesh from the destruction of severe cyclonic storm 'Bulbul' which crossed through Khulna coastline and the southwestern part of the country early Sunday, claiming lives and damaging homes and crops.
Packing winds of up to 120 kilometres (75 miles) per hour and gusts of up to 130kph (80mph), Bulbul was weakened after crossing Bangladesh's southwestern coastal region near the Sundarbans, the world's largest mangrove forest, dumping incessant rain across the country.
The cyclone, which later became a deep depression, ravaged about 5,000 houses in the country's southwestern coastal districts and damaged more than 200,000 hectares (494,200 acres) of crop land, according to the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief, and Agriculture.
"But the extent of the damage is not very high as it first slammed the southwestern Khulna region near the Sundarbans lessening the impact of the cyclone, he said, adding, "We have been able to move the highest number of people to cyclone centers in history that also helped lessen the casualties."
Over 21 lakh people took shelter in 5,787 centers during the cyclone. The evacuees were returning home throughout Sunday, according to him.
"The Sundarbans has saved us once again," Khulna Divisional Forest Officer Mahmudul Hasan told The New Nation adding, " The Sundarbans prevented the possible destruction from the cyclonic storm Bulbul. It obstructed the force of the cyclone lessening the extent of losses and deaths in the southern part of the country."
The Sundarbans- the world's largest mangrove forest and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, instrumental in saving thousands from certain death and destruction when several severe Cyclone, including Sidr, struck Bangladesh earlier, according to environmentalists and expert.
"Bulbul entered Bangladesh through the Sundarbans and then hit Khulna. The forest reduced its wind speed and weakened it. That's why Bangladesh didn't face much casualties. It would have been worse if the cyclone came
in without the resistance," Shamsuddin Ahmed, Director of Bangladesh Meteorological Department told The New Nation.
The storm, however, has claimed 17 lives in coastal districts as it uprooted trees, caused the collapse of houses and prevented people from taking the ailing ones to hospitals from cyclone shelters, reports our district sand upazila correspondents.
"Hundreds of people died in two similar storms in 2007 and 2009 but hundreds of thousands others survived as the Sundarbans stood as a shield between the habitants of the coastal districts and fierce winds," said Moyeen Uddin Khan, Forest Conservator of Khulna.
He also said that Cyclone Bulbul has not caused much damage to the Sundarbans.
"Trees have been broken from their base along the rivers. It will take a few days to find out the impact of the storm on the wildlife," he said.
Khulna Forest Department Officer Bashirul Al Mamun said that the cyclone has damaged trees in the Sundarbans but it has not left major impact on the wildlife there. The cyclone did not hit at the time of tide in the forest, and because of this the height of tidal surge remained more or less normal. So it is initially assumed that the loss of wildlife is limited this time.
"We will conduct survey in the next few days to ascertain the overall loss in the Sundarbans," added Mamun.
However, he hoped that the forest would be restored to its former capacity, as the damage was not like the Cyclone Sidr.
The death toll from cyclone 'Bulbul' that lashed Khulna and adjoining southwestern part of the country rose to 17, confirmed Ayesha Akhter, Assistant Director of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS),
Of the deaths, three were killed each in Khulna and Patuakhali while two each in Gopalganj, Shariatpur and Bagerhat and one each Barguna, Barishal, Bhola, Pirojpur and Madaripur districts.
Also 28 fishermen went missing as a boat was still unaccounted for after it ventured into the sea despite storm warning and another boat sank in Barguna and Bhola. Of them 16 are yet to missing, report police and coast guard.
About 25 lakh clients of Rural Electrification Board (REB) in nine coastal districts are yet to get back their power connection after Cyclone Bulbul made landfall on Saturday night, a REB official said.
In Satkhira, Bagerhat and Barguna districts, officials initially estimated the cyclone damaged Aman paddy, winter vegetables and other crops on a total of around 60,000 hectares of land.
Officials in the other districts said they were yet to assess the damage as wind, rainfall and storm surge hit the coastal areas.
In Khulna, two persons died after being crushed under the trees upended during the storm in Khulna's Dighalia and Dacope Upazilas, according to the health directorate. The deceased were identified as Alamgir Hossain, 32, from Dighalia's Senhati, and Promila Mandal, 52, from Dacope, said the district's Superintendent of Police SM Shafiullah.
In Bagerhat, a young girl, identified only as Samia, died after a tree upended during the storm in Bagerhat's Rampal, reports Md. Saiful Alam, our
A total of 44,563 households, 35,529 hectares of arable land and 7,234 fish enclosures were damaged under the influence of heavy rain and strong winds in the coastal district.
Besides, 18.35 kilometers of embankments were also damaged due to the cyclonic storm.
Among the households, 35,775 were partially damaged while 8,788 were fully destroyed, reports our Bagerhat correspondent quoting Deputy Commissioner of Bagerhat Mamunur Rashid.
The district administration has declared 62 of the 75 unions in Bagerhat as "disaster-affected" as 1,32,300 people in these unions have been affected by "Bulbul". The cyclone has also severely damaged over 50 electric poles.
Of these, 35,529 hectares of arable land damaged by the cyclone, 31,803 hectares of Ropa Aman, 2, 395 hectares of vegetables, 540 hectares of betel leaf, 70 hectares of bananas, 95 hectares of sugarcane, 35 hectares of chili and 20 hectares of mustard were damaged, said Acting Deputy Director of Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) Dipak Kumar.
Bagerhat district fisheries official Khaled Kanak said that fisher folk suffered a total loss of Tk 2.93 crore due to damage to their fish enclosures.
Meanwhile, Executive Engineer of Bagerhat Water Development Board Nahid Uzzaman Khan said around 18.35 kilometers of embankments were damaged. The board were examining the damage to the embankments and will start repair work soon, he said.
District Commissioner (DC) Md Mamunur Rashid said that the relatives of the two deceased have been given Tk 20,00 each.
In Barguna, Halima Khatun, 70, died after falling sick at a shelter at DL College in Barguna Sadar Upazila on Saturday night.
On Sunday afternoon, a man died after falling from a tree as he went to cut off its broken branches, said Deputy Commissioner Mostain Billah.
Around 5000 houses have been damaged in the district due to the storm. More than 86 educational institutions were badly affected, repoirts our district correspondent quoting Deputy Commissioner Mostain Billah.
He said that the district administration has so far allocated 294 metric tonnes of rice, Tk 7 lakh, 350 packets of dry food and 50 blankets. Initially we have determined the loss due the cyclone Bulbul. The victims will be rehabilitated by preparing a list of full casualties and sending it to the ministry.
Barguna Trawler Owners' Association Golam Mostafa Chowdhury said that a trawler with 15 fishermen on board went missing on Saturday in Narikebari on the Bay of Bengal.
In Patuakhali, an elderly man died as he trapped into tree in Mirzaganj upazila in the district,
Around 2,810 houses were destroyed while 28,508 hectors of crops lands damaged during the strom, said DC Matiul Islam Chowdhury.
Also 2,01,300 trees were uprooted and around chickens and ducks victimized in the strom while the 20 cattle went into missing, he said.
In Gopalganj, a 70-year old man died after being crushed under an uprooted tree at Kotalipara upazila. .
In Bhola, a fisherman died and 13 others went missing when a trawler capsized with 24 on board in the Meghna river, said district Superintendent of Police Sarker Mohammad Kaiser.
He said that rescue efforts is still going on to find the missing fishermen.
In Patuakhali, an elderly man died after a tree fell on his house in Patuakhali after Cyclone Bulbul battered the coastal district. He was identified as Hameed Fakir.
In Pirojpur, a man died when a tree toppled by strong wind gusts landed on his house in Pirojpur's Nazirpur Upazila. He was identified as Noni Shikari, said Nazirpur Police OC Md Moniruzzaman.
Meanwhile, two siblings were critically injured in the Upazila's Kolar Doania Union after a tree collapsed on their home, said Hasnat Dalim, chairman of the union council.
In Madaripur, a woman died after her house was rattled by strong winds in Madaripur Sadar Upazila. She was identified as Saleha Begum, 40.
In Barishal, an elderly woman died under a fallen tree in Barishal. The deceased has been identified as Ashalata Mazumdar, 60, said Deputy Commissioner SM Aziar Rahman.
In Shariatpur, an elderly man died in Naria Upazila when a tree fell on his home.
IN Jhalkathi, at least 333 houses and 47 educational institutes were reportedly damaged and 14,500 hectors paddy and vegetable fields destroyed during the storm. Even 415 kilometes roads also collapsed in the district.
In Jashore, the electric wires have been snapped in 156 points and 10 pillars also uprooted during the storm in Keshobpur upazila in the district, said Jashore REB-2 zonal office DGM abu anas Md Naser.
Besides, hundreds of fields for paddy, dal, mustard, onion, garlic, banana and vegetables have been damaged to the storm, said Keshobpur Upazila Agricultural Officer Mahadeb Chandra.
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