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Cyclone Sitrang: 24 dead as Bangladesh seeks to restore power to millions | Bangladesh


At least 24 people died and millions were without power after Cyclone Sitrang hit Bangladesh, forcing the evacuation of around a million people.

Most of the deaths are from falling trees, police and government officials said, two of whom died in the north on the Jamuna River when their boat sank. A Myanmar national working on a ship also died when he fell from the bridge, an official said.

“We still haven’t received all the damage reports,” said Jebun Nahar, a government official.

Around 10 million people were without power in districts along the coast on Tuesday, while schools were closed across much of the south of the country.

Sitrang made landfall in southern Bangladesh on Monday evening. Authorities managed to get around a million people to safety before he struck.

Eight people were missing from a dredge boat that sank during Monday night’s storm in the Bay of Bengal near Mirsarai, regional fire chief Abdullah Pasha said. “A strong wind overturned the dredge and she sank instantly in the Bay of Bengal.” Divers were looking for survivors.

Evacuees from low-lying areas such as remote islands and river banks have been moved to thousands of multi-storey cyclone shelters, Ministry of Disaster Management Secretary Kamrul Ahsan said.

Ahsan said nearly 10,000 homes were “destroyed or damaged” in the storm and around 1,000 shrimp farms were washed away by the floods.

People walk past trees downed by Cyclone Sitrang, Dhaka, Bangladesh.
People walk past trees downed by Cyclone Sitrang, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Photograph: Monirul Alam/EPA

Trees were uprooted as far as the capital, Dhaka, hundreds of kilometers from the center of the storm.

Heavy rains hit much of the country, flooding cities such as Dhaka, Khulna and Barisal which received 324 mm (13 inches) of rain on Monday.

Around 33,000 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, controversially moved from the mainland to a storm-prone island in the Bay of Bengal, have been ordered to stay indoors, but there have been no reports of casualties or of damage, officials said.

The cyclone knocked down trees and caused widespread panic in the southern island of Maheshkhali after electricity and telecommunications were cut off.

“Such was the power of the wind that we could not sleep at night because of the fear that our houses would be destroyed. The snakes entered many houses. The water also flooded many houses,” said Tahmidul Islam , 25, a resident of Maheshkhali.

In the neighboring Indian state of West Bengal, thousands of people were evacuated to more than 100 relief centers on Monday, officials said. No damage was reported and people started returning home on Tuesday.

In 2021, more than a million people were evacuated along the east coast of India before Cyclone Yaas hit the region with winds of up to 155 km/h (96 mph), which equivalent to a Category 2 hurricane.

Cyclone Amphan, the second recorded “super cyclone” over the Bay of Bengal, killed more than 100 people in Bangladesh and India and affected millions when it struck in 2020.

In recent years, better forecasts and more effective evacuation planning have significantly reduced the casualties from these storms. The worst on record, in 1970, killed hundreds of thousands of people.

Cyclones are a regular threat in the region, but scientists say climate change is likely making them more intense and more frequent.

theguardian

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