In Bangladesh, the arrival of the powerful cyclone Remal, a million people flee

In Bangladesh, the arrival of the powerful cyclone Remal, a million people flee
In Bangladesh, the arrival of the powerful cyclone Remal, a million people flee
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MUNIR UZ ZAMAN / AFP Photo taken in Kuakata on May 26, 2024, before Cyclone Remal reached Bangladesh.

MUNIR UZ ZAMAN / AFP

Photo taken in Kuakata on May 26, 2024, before Cyclone Remal reached Bangladesh.

INTERNATIONAL – Wind of panic. The powerful cyclone Remal reached the coasts of Bangladesh this Sunday, May 26, while at least a million people fled to find refuge inland.

“We have so far recorded maximum wind speeds of 90 km/h, but they could accelerate”, said Azizur Rahman, director of the Bangladesh Meteorological Department. According to forecasts, gusts could reach 130 km/h.

A “storm surge”

“The cyclone could trigger a storm surge of up to four meters above the normal tide, which is potentially dangerous”, alerted, for his part, a senior official of the meteorological service, Muhammad Abul Kalam Mallik. However, most of Bangladesh’s coastal areas are one or two meters above sea level.

Bangladeshi authorities therefore raised the cyclone alert level to its maximum, warning fishermen not to go to sea and issuing an evacuation order for those in vulnerable areas.

The country’s government also mobilized tens of thousands of volunteers to alert the population of the danger and some 4,000 cyclone shelters were prepared along the country’s coast in the Bay of Bengal.

Ports and beaches closed

“We are terrified”said Yusuf Fakir, a 35-year-old fisherman from Kuakata, a town in the far south of Bangladesh, right in the storm’s predicted path. He sent his wife and children to a relative inland. He remains to protect their property.

Besides villagers and fishermen, many multi-storey centers have space to house cattle, buffalo and goats, as well as pets.

The country’s three seaports and the airport in Chittagong, the second-largest city, were closed, officials said. And beaches near the area have been closed.

The Indian Navy announced on Sunday that it had prepared two ships equipped with medical supplies for a “immediate deployment to ensure the safety and well-being of the affected population”.

Ferry carrying 50 passengers sank

As people fled, police said a ferry carrying more than 50 passengers, twice its capacity, had sunk near Mongla, a port in the storm’s expected path.

“At least thirteen people were injured and taken to hospital”local police chief Mushfiqur Rahman Tushar told AFP, adding that other boats had taken their passengers to safety.

The cyclone is expected to sweep a stretch of 220 kilometers from India’s Sagar Island to Khepupara in Bangladesh. Heavy rains and strong winds will also affect neighboring India, where coastal areas have also been evacuated.

Cyclones have killed hundreds of thousands of people in Bangladesh in recent decades, and the number hitting its low-lying, densely populated coastline has risen sharply, from one to three a year, due to climate change.

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