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Over 1 million customers lose power supply as cyclone Amphan hits Bangladesh coast; 1 dead

PTI | Dhaka | Updated: 20-05-2020 22:35 IST | Created: 20-05-2020 21:48 IST
Over 1 million customers lose power supply as cyclone Amphan hits Bangladesh coast; 1 dead
Representative Image Image Credit: Twitter(@gopalkagarwal)

Over one million consumers in the coastal areas of Bangladesh were without power after strong winds snapped electricity lines and many houses destroyed as the country was hit by a powerful cyclone on Wednesday that killed at least one person. Cyclone 'Amphan', the strongest to hit the region in nearly two decades, made a landfall on Wednesday evening. Authorities raised the alert level to 'great danger' for some districts in the country as the cyclone, the most powerful storm since cyclone 'Sidr' killed nearly 3,500 people in 2007, approached the coastline.

"More than one million consumers in at least 17 associations of the Rural Electrification Board have lost electricity," bdnews24.com reported. Apart from this, almost 40,000 customers of West Zone Power Distribution Company have lost electricity supply.

The cyclone made landfall at 2.30 p.m. between Digha in West Bengal and and Hatiya island in Bangladesh, flattening fragile dwellings, uprooting trees and electric poles. The cyclone 'Amphan' started crossing the Bangladesh coast around 5pm on Wednesday packing a wind speed of around 160 to 180kph rising to 200kph within 80km of its centre, meteorologist Abdul Mannan was quoted as saying by the newsportal.

A Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRC) volunteer drowned on Wednesday when a boat capsized while evacuating villagers to safety in southwestern Patuakhali, becoming the first victim of cyclone Amphan. "He was on a boat along with four others when a sudden storm under advancing Amphan's influence overturned it. Three others managed to escape," BDRC's cyclone preparedness programme Nurul Islam Khan told PTI.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said authorities had shifted over two million people to storm shelters and deployed the military to deal with the powerful cyclone 'Amphan'. "We have the preparations (to face cyclone Amphan). We are taking all possible measures that we should adopt for protecting the lives and properties of the people from the cyclone," Prime Minister Hasina told a meeting of the National Disaster Management Council (NDMC) formed to review the preparations in facing the possible assault of the super cyclone.

"Twenty lakh people have so far been evacuated to the cyclone centres as part of the prior preparation," Hasina was quoted as saying by The Daily Star newspaper. The Bangladesh Army, Navy and Air Force have made preparations to tackle the super cyclone which has moved within 400km of Bangladesh's coast and is expected to make landfall on Wednesday evening, Bdnews24.com reported.

Meanwhile, some 740 houses in Patuakhali were washed away as an advanced surge of tidal wave cracked a coastal embankment while the cyclone was approaching, officials said. "So far 23,90,307 people have been moved to safety along with over half a million cattle... The increased number of people prompted us to increase the number of cyclone shelters from 12,078 to 14,336 in 19 of the southern coastal districts," state minister for disaster management Enamur Rahman told a media briefing in the afternoon.

The Navy has deployed 25 ships as part of three-tier efforts to conduct emergency rescue, relief and medical operations in the immediate aftermath of the super cyclone, the report said. Two maritime patrol aircraft and two helicopters were also at the ready to conduct search operations over the Bay of Bengal and in the coastal districts, the Inter Services Public Relations Directorate (ISPR) said.

The Army has prepared 18,400 packets of relief materials and formed 71 medical teams. As many as 145 disaster management teams with special equipment are also ready to be deployed at short notice, the ISPR said. The Air Force will assess the possible damage along with medical, relief and rescue efforts by using six transport aircraft and 22 helicopters, it said. Bangladesh's met office earlier issued its highest "Great Danger Signal" for the regions under the purview of the southwestern Mongla and Payra ports, replacing the previously issued mere "Danger Signal".

In a midday bulletin, authorities issued the identical Great Danger Signal for the seaports of Chattogram and Cox's Bazar and their adjoining southwestern regions. The meteorologists said the world largest mangrove forest, the Sundarbans, was likely to absorb the main brunt of the Amphan onslaught as it did many times over the centuries, including that of the recent major storms.

Leading global storm tracker AccuWeather on Tuesday described Amphan as the first super cyclone in the Bay of Bengal since 1999.


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