Amphan hits southwestern Bangladesh, Indian coasts
(UPDATES with casualties, details)
DHAKA, May 20, 2020 (BSS) – Super cyclone Amphan hit southwestern Bangladesh coastlines bordering India coast this evening with pounding winds and torrential rains, inflating sea waters causing as high as 12 feet tidal surges with initial reports suggesting at least three casualties.
Meteorologists said the “extremely severe cyclonic storm” was packing maximum sustained winds around 160-170 km/h (100-120 mph) and gusts to 190 km/h (120 mph) as it roared ashore with Khulna, Mongla, Satkhira and the Sundarbans absorbing its main brut in Bangladesh part .
“Amphan will threaten the head of the Bay of Bengal region with torrential rain, widespread damaging winds and extreme storm surge as the storm continues to move inland. Kolkata, the capital city of West Bengal, will take a direct hit from the storm,” US-based global storm tracker AccuWeather said.
Initial reports from coastlines suggest the storm ravaged coastlines, washing away coastal embankments at places and claimed so far at least two lives as the onslaught coincided with high tide period.
Bangladeshi met office said the tip of the cyclone hit the coastline just ahead of the evening in southwestern regions including the Sundarbans as predicted earlier and barrelled towards Indian coast.
“The advanced part of the cyclone by now approached West Bengal crossing Bangladesh coast but it would take four to five hours more to entirely cross our territory,” a met office spokesman said.
The cyclone hit as disaster management authorities in the afternoon today said they eventually evacuated over two million vulnerable people to safert mostly in southwestern coastlines as super cyclone Amphan is set to make its landfall in hours.
“So far 2390,307 people have been moved to safety long with over half a million cattle,” state minister for disaster management Enamur Rahman told a virtual media briefing in the afternoon.
He added that the increased number of people, even surpassing a target, prompted authorities to increase the number of cyclone shelters from 12,078 to 14,336″ in 19 of the southern coastal districts.
Officials and Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRC) volunteers reported from the coastal areas that received reports of at least three cyclone deaths with one being a minor child while the storm leveled a huge number of houses, uprooted trees affecting the Sundarbans as well and washed away shrimp enclosures.
BDRC’s cyclone preparedness programme director Nurul Islam Khan told BSS that the child was a victim of house collapse at Galachipa area of Patuakhali.
BSS Bhola correspondent reported that a 70-year-old man, Siddique Fakir was killed as a tree fell on him when the storm struck at Charfashion. Doctors declared him dead as he was rushed to Charfashion Hospital.
A BDRC volunteer appeared to be the first victim of Amphan, when inclement weather hours ahead of the main brunt of the cyclone hit overturned a boat in which he was travelling to evacuate villagers to safety in southwestern Kalapara of Patuakhali.
“He was on a boat along with four others while a sudden storm under advancing Amphan’s influence overturned . . . three others managed to swam ashore but our Syed Shah Ali could not make it,” Khan said.
He said 50-year Ali drowned visibly because of his heavy gumboots, raincoat and a 10-kg super megaphone he was carrying.
The BDRC volunteers also reported crack of two embankments in Koira of Khulna and Southkhali of Shoronkhola along the Sundarbans, which first received the major storm impact a 6.30 pm, according to meteorologists.
The cyclone brought with it heavy downpour as predicted while most parts of Khulna region were severely battered by tidal surges and very heavy showers.
“The river levels are rising under dark skies, while in the coastal resort of Koyra, Dakop, Batiaghata and Paikgacha large waves are pounding the shore,” BSS Khulna region’s roving correspondent reported.
Quoting officials and residents he said hundreds of thatched houses fully and partially damaged while broken embankments at places allowed surges with huge force to washout villages particularly in Koyra and Paikgachha upazilas.
Authorities earlier ordered ships and bigger fishing boats to e anchored in safe places but the reports suggest many rafts and engine runs vessels went missing or sank severing their anchors.
Officials said Khulna district administration, Mongla Port Authority, Navy, Bangladesh Coast Guard (BCG), Fire Service and Civil Defence were now set to launch the post-cyclone rescue campaign in soonest possible time.
Khulna’s deputy commissioner Md Helal Hossain the district administration earlier evacuated tens of thousands of people in quickest possible time ahead of the Amphan’s landfall.
District relief officer M Azizul Haque Zoadder said about 2, 97,500 people were evacuated to cyclone shelters in record quick time before the storm hit with assistance of BDRC volunteers and different other government and non-government agencies including armed forces, paramilitary troops, firemen and police personnel.