Hundreds of thousands evacuated as Bangladesh braces for cyclone

Authorities in Bangladesh were evacuating hundreds of thousands of people on Monday before Cyclone Sitrang made landfall.

 People wade through a flooded street amid continuous rain before the Cyclone Sitrang hits the country in Dhaka, Bangladesh, October 24, 2022. (photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMMAD PONIR HOSSAIN)
People wade through a flooded street amid continuous rain before the Cyclone Sitrang hits the country in Dhaka, Bangladesh, October 24, 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMMAD PONIR HOSSAIN)

Authorities in Bangladesh were evacuating hundreds of thousands of people on Monday before Cyclone Sitrang made landfall amid fears of heavy damage to houses and crops and the disruption of road and power links.

Approaching from the Bay of Bengal, Sitrang was expected to hit the southern coast near the Khepupara area of the Barishal-Chittaging early on Tuesday, with winds gusting up to 88 km (55 miles) per hour, the weather office said.

It forecast a storm surge of up to three meters (10 feet that could swamp mud dwellings along the coast, uproot communication towers and inundate roads.

All the people from the dangerous areas along the coastal belt were being evacuated to safer places, said Enamur Rahman, the junior minister for disaster management.

More than 7,000 cyclone shelters were set up to accommodate 3 million people, he said.

 A rickshaw puller wears a polythene to protect himself as it rains in Dhaka, Bangladesh, May 30, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/MOHAMMAD PONIR HOSSAIN) A rickshaw puller wears a polythene to protect himself as it rains in Dhaka, Bangladesh, May 30, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/MOHAMMAD PONIR HOSSAIN)

What is being done in preparation for the cyclone?

Aid workers have stockpiled emergency items such as food, tarpaulins and water purification tablets in refugee camps housing more than a million Rohingya in flimsy shelters in Cox's Bazar.

Officials also advised nearly 33,000 Rohingya refugees, moved from camps to flood-prone island in the Bay of Bengal, to stay indoors.

Authorities in India's West Bengal were also preparing to face the cyclone. A heavy rainfall alert has been issued coastal areas of West Bengal.

Sanjeev Bandopadhyay, deputy director of the India Meteorological Department, said the cyclone had intensified as it moved over the the Bay of Bengal. It was likely to skirt past West Bengal's Sunderbans region but several areas would receive heavy rainfalls.

Disaster relief teams were stationed in the coastal towns and tourist attractions such as Digha, Bakkhali and Sagar Island.

Bandopadhyay said water in all the rivers in the Sunderbans delta were rising and may reach up to 10 to 15 meters during Sitrang's landfall.

The two neighboring countries have experienced increasing extreme weather in recent years which has caused large-scale damage. Environmentalists warn that climate change could lead to more disasters, especially in densely populated Bangladesh.