Mon, Nov 11, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Cyclone kills at least eight in Bangladesh and India

AFP, KHULNA, Bangladesh

A man clears debris from his house destroyed by Cyclone Bulbul in Bakkhali, India, yesterday.

Photo: AFP

At least eight people died and more than 2 million others spent a night huddled in storm shelters as Cyclone Bulbul smashed into the coasts of India and Bangladesh with fierce gales and torrential rains, officials said yesterday.

The cyclone packed winds of up to 120kph when it hit late on Saturday, closing ports and airports in both countries.

Three people were killed in India’s West Bengal State, two after uprooted trees fell on their homes and another after being struck by the falling branches of a tree in Kolkata.

A fourth person died in a wall collapse in nearby Odisha State.

In Bangladesh, four more were killed by falling trees and at least 20 people were injured.

The cyclone also damaged about 4,000 mostly mud and tin-built houses, Bangladeshi Disaster Management and Relief Secretary Shah Kamal told reporters.

In coastal Khulna, the worst-hit district in Bangladesh, trees swayed violently and were ripped from the ground in the fierce storm, blocking roads and hampering access to the area.

Some low-lying parts of the district were flooded, Bangladeshi Disaster Management and Relief Minister Enamur Rahman said.

Authorities said the cyclone was weakening as it moved inland.

“It has turned into a deep depression, causing heavy rainfall,” Bangladesh Meteorological Department Deputy Chief Ayesha Khatun told reporters.

Bulbul hit the coast at the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest, which straddles Bangladesh and India, and is home to endangered species including Bengal tigers and Irrawaddy dolphins.

The mangroves shielded the coast from the storm’s full impact, Khatun said.

About 2.1 million people across Bangladesh were relocated to cyclone shelters.

Troops were sent to coastal districts, while tens of thousands of volunteers went door-to-door and used loudspeakers to urge people to evacuate their villages.

“We spent the night with another 400 people,” said Ambia Begum, who arrived at a shelter in the port town of Mongla late on Saturday along with her family.

“I am worried about my cattle and the straw roof of my house. I could not bring them here. Allah knows what is happening there,” the 30-year-old mother of three told reporters.

About 1,500 tourists were stranded on St Martin’s island off southeastern Bangladesh after boat services were canceled.

In India, nearly 120,000 people who were evacuated started to return home as the cyclone weakened, authorities said.

“The storm has left a trail of destruction as it’s crossed the coastline of West Bengal,” the state’s Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim said.

“Trees were uprooted, thatched and corrugated roofs of many houses were blown away,” he said.

Bangladesh’s low-lying coast, home to 30 million people, and India’s east are regularly battered by cyclones.

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