by Nazrul Islam ;
Dhaka – The tropical cyclone that formed in the Bay of Bengal has turned into a “very severe cyclonic storm” with wind speed gaining as high as of the super cyclone Sidr that killed nearly 3,400 people 13 years ago.
Officials at disaster management department said on Monday that more than 12,000 cyclone shelters have been prepared in 19 coastal districts. The centers, this time, comprised of school buildings and other government establishments alongside the traditional cyclone centers.
“We will need them to maintain social distancing,” said Mohammad Mohsin, head of the disaster management department, as Bangladesh was struggling with the spiraling number of Covid-19 patients.
The South Asian country has already reported 23,870 infections of the novel coronavirus with 349 deaths until Monday.
Depending on the movements of the storm, the next course of actions will be taken. “We are prepared of evacuating 5 million people, but we may need to send 2 million to the shelter,” Mohsin said.
The cyclone Amphan, which was less than 1,000 kilometers away from Bangladesh’s southern maritime Payra port until Monday evening already gathered strength of a super cyclone. It has wind speed of 225 to 245 kilometers per hour within 90 kilometers of its center, according to the special cyclone alert issued by Bangladesh meteorological department.
The storm has taken a vast area on its way as was approaching towards the coast. The cyclone may make landfall on Bangladesh if it does not change the current course. It may hit both south-western Bangladeshi districts and parts of Indian state of West Bengal if it even slightly changes the course with the current speed, said an official.
Its likely landfall is predicted to be on Tuesday night or early Wednesday, according to the bulletin, which asked all maritime ports to remain alert. Fishing boats were advised to return to safety and not to venture into the bay until further notice.
Due to the influence of the cyclone, Bangladesh is likely to experience downpour on Tuesday and Wednesday. Coastal areas and low-laying offshore islands may experience water surge of maximum 2 meter-high above normal tide.
Cyclonic storms are very common in the Bay of Bengal. They often cross the coastline of Bangladesh and India.
A powerful cyclone hit the south-eastern parts of Bangladesh on April 29, 1991, killing more than 100,000 people and making millions homeless.
The Cyclone Sidr, with wind speed up to 240 kilometers per hour lashed the south-west coast on November 15, 2007, leaving 3,500 people killed and injuring more than 55,000 others.