Cyclone Sitrang started crossing the coast of Bangladesh between Chittagong and Barishal, with wind speeds of up to 90 km per hour by evening.
Towering waves, caused by tidal surges, crashed on to the coast of St. Martin’s Island as Cyclone Sitrang swept by just before noon on Monday. 13 fishing trawlers were damaged., though no casualties have been reported.
According to Union Parishad chairman of St Martin’s Island, Md Mujibur Rahman, towering waves caused by tidal surges hit the island’s southeast coast around 11 am on Monday.
“The sea is turbulent due to Cyclone Sitrang. Seven of the damaged vessels were ripped apart while six were partially damaged. Many trees were uprooted by the stormy winds,” the chairman told the news media, bdnews24.com.
“No boats, trawlers or ships are operational due to the cyclonic storm,” said Jahangir Alam, general secretary of St. Martin’s Island’s service trawlers owners’ association. “The fishing boats and trawlers have returned to the coasts from the sea. More than 300 boats, trawlers, and speedboats are anchored in the pier.”
By evening, Cyclone Sitrang started crossing the coast of Bangladesh between Chittagong and Barishal, with wind speeds of up to 90 km per hour.
The cyclonic storm is very likely to further intensify into a more severe one today with wind speed reaching 90 to 100 km per hour and gusting to 110 km per hour, according to the The India Meteorological Department.
Cyclone shelters ready
Over 219,990 people from 15 coastal districts were moved to the safety of cyclone shelters centres until 5:00 pm on Monday and more people were expected to take makeshift refuge in safe shelters.
“At least 219,990 people have been taken to cyclone centres in 15 coastal districts by 5:00 pm on Monday,” a disaster management and relief ministry spokesperson said Monday evening.
Officials said that 7,030 storm shelters along coastal regions will give refuge to 2.5 million people.
M Moniruzzaman, a joint secretary with the ministry, added that evacuation of people living in the expected path of the cyclonic storm was underway. 6,925 cyclone centres are kept ready for the people yet to at the shelters, he said.
Md Erfanul Haque Chowdhury, assistant commissioner at the Teknaf UNO, said that instructions have been passed to keep cyclone shelters and multi-storey buildings open to local residents for refuge.
He said all necessary arrangements, including dry food and water, were in place for the locals.
Educational institutions in three divisions have been closed for Tuesday as authorities expect that over 200,000 people might need to take shelter in these places.
In the meanwhile, fallen trees have blocked the Dhaka-Chittagong highway. The fallen trees have also affected telecommunication and power distribution in some areas, while safety measures enforced outages in others. The country’s central regions as far as Dhaka were experiencing incessant rains.
Fallen trees have also led to deaths of four in Dhaka, Bhola and Narail during the battering by Cyclone Sitrang. The fire service and civil defence have opened a monitoring cell.
The airports at Cox’s Bazar, Chattogram and Barishal have been closed and ferry launch service across Bangladesh have been suspended.
Yet, disaster management officials and humanitarians say that millions remain in the cyclone’s pathway.
The country’s meteorological department on Monday evening advised managements of the ports at Mongla and Payra to hoist a seventh-level as it is feared that coastal districts will experience storm tides and heavy rain, though experts describe Sitrang as a “moderate” storm with a diameter of 400-500 km.