Landfall on Saturday: Cyclone kills two as Bangladesh, India evacuate two million

Cheryl Sanders
November 10, 2019

While the frequency and intensity have increased, partly due to climate change, the death tolls have come down because of faster evacuations and the building of 4,000 cyclone shelters along the coast.

"The government has taken adequate measures to face very severe cyclonic storm Bulbul", said Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Md Enamur Rahman, according to Dhaka Tribune.

It said that storm surge of about 1 to 2 metres height above astronomical tide is very likely to inundate low lying areas of south and North 24 Parganas and 0.5 to 1 metre height above astronomical tide is very likely to inundate low lying areas of East Medinipur.

Hurtling high-speed cyclonic storm "Bulbul" is set to make landfall by 11 pm Saturday night between Sagar Islands of West Bengal and Khepupara in Bangladesh and move northwestwards into the neighbouring country over the Sunderban delta.

At the time of landfall, the storm is expected to weaken into a Severe Cyclonic Storm due to its interaction with dry air, higher vertical wind shear and close proximity to coastal proximity. More than 5,000 shelters in 13 coastal districts had been prepared by the morning.

Two teams of Odisha Disaster Rapid Action force and one of the National Disaster Response Force are on standby in Puri, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara and Jajpur districts.

It said the maximum sustained wind speed within 74 kms of the cyclone centre was about 130 kph which was rising to 150 kph in gusts/squalls. The cyclone also brought rainfall to several parts of coastal Odisha and its adjoining areas.

Bulbul was expected to hit the coast at the Sundarbans, the world's largest mangrove forest, which straddles Bangladesh and part of eastern India and is home to endangered species including the Bengal tiger.

As the day progressed, volunteers used loudspeakers to ask people to move to shelters in Chittagong and other regions, according to the disaster management ministry.

Operations at the country's two major ports - Mongla and Chittagong - have been suspended, Kamal said.

Officials have been told to ensure total suspension of fishing operations from Friday.

In the Cox's Bazar coastal district, tourists were alerted to stay in their hotels while a few hundred visitors were stuck on St Martin's Island. Cyclone shelters have been built over recent years.

Bangladesh, a nation of 160 million people, has a history of violent cyclones.

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