Cyclone Roanu batters Bangladesh; death toll rises to 26; close to a million people affected

At least 26 people were killed and more than a 100 injured by heavy rains, landslides and flooding caused by cyclone Roanu which hit the coastal areas of the Barisal-Chittagong region in Bangladesh on May 21. Bhola , Noakhali and Cox’s Bazaar regions were also affected with 3 deaths reported from there. Reports of more deaths are still coming in as the catastrophe has hit the country hard, leaving around one million severely affected.

Cyclone Roanu had initially caused torrential rain and devastation in Sr Lanka, after which, unabated and intense, it moved north-east over the Bay of Bengal.

After lashing the coastal areas of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha it hit the southwestern district of Chittagong in Bangladesh on 21st May. It was expected to lash Bangladesh and Western Myanmar with wind speeds of 100-130km/ hr.

A storm surge was also expected near the coastal area of Kutudbia (Cox’s Bazaar).

Bangladesh in anticipation of the cyclone had issued a warning of 7 on a scale of 10. More than 500,000 were evacuated from the vulnerable coastal areas where economically impoverished people live in make-shift houses made of mud, tin or bamboos.

The cyclonic storm with wind speeds up to 88km/hr uprooted trees and caused disruption of power and blocked roads. Strong gusts of wind and heavy rainfall caused damage to more than 85,000 houses and business shacks.

Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury, minister of disaster management said that the worst hit area was the north west of Chittagong.

In Patuakhali strong waves from the sea caused the dam in Rangbali to break down flooding the area and water logging 300 families.

Storm surges also breached dykes at various places and inundated many villages along the coastal areas. More than 1 person drowned in the floods.

Metereologists said the storm hit the southwestern coast and then moved to the southeast creating very rough seas.

The red alert was sounded by coastal authorities and ships asked to immediately leave port and anchor in the outer anchorage. Smaller vessels were moved to river banks inside the mainland for the sake of safety.

All flight operations were suspended at the Shah Amanat International Airport.

By days end the storm had begun to abate with lessening rain, and the warning level was decreased to 3 from 7 by authorities.

Bangladesh has always been vulnerable to cyclonic storms because of its location at the north of the triangular Bay of Bengal.

Cyclone Komen had affected the same coastal areas last year while thousands in the country have lost their lives in earlier severe storms in the years 1988 and 1991.

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