Dhaka,  Tuesday
25 June 2024

Cyclone ‘Remal’ wreaks havoc in Bagerhat 

Rifat Al Mahmoud, Bagerhat

Published: 09:06, 29 May 2024

Cyclone ‘Remal’ wreaks havoc in Bagerhat 

This photo from coastal Bagerhat shows a damaged concrete shelter, highlighting the severity of Cyclone Remal’s devastation. Photo: messenger

Cyclone Remal has wreaked havoc in the coastal district of Bagerhat, causing extensive damage and leaving a trail of devastation in its wake. The cyclone has destroyed 45,000 houses, with 35,000 partially damaged and 10,000 completely obliterated. Thousands of trees have been uprooted, and the district has been cut off from the rest of the region due to the collapse of electricity poles.

Additionally, around a hundred villages have been inundated by tides ranging from 6 to 8 feet, trapping nearly half a lakh family in water. The fisheries sector has suffered significant losses, with a high tide breaching a dam and flooding localities. The district fisheries office reported that at least 3,500 shrimp enclosures and fish ponds washed away in Mongla, Rampal, Sharankhola, Morelganj, and Bagerhat Sadar upazilas have been severely impacted. The financial toll on fisheries alone is estimated at Tk 73 crore.

The agricultural sector has not been spared either, with 1,581 hectares of crop land damaged. According to the District Water Development Board, a dam breach in Morelganj and Sharankhola has led to the flooding of seven villages. Fish farmer Mohammad Redwan Maruf from Dakshin Mallik village expressed his despair, stating that the storm surge caused extensive damage, leaving almost everyone in the area destitute. "Just when we were about to sell the fish, Remal destroyed everything," he lamented.

Bagerhat District Fisheries Officer ASM Russell indicated that the fishermen have suffered immense losses due to Cyclone Remal. Preliminary assessments were conducted by Monday afternoon, but further rain could exacerbate the damage. A comprehensive report will be released once the storm subsides.

Bagerhat Deputy Commissioner Md. Khalid Hossain noted that Sharankhola, Morelganj, and Mongla upazilas experienced the most severe damage. Detailed information will be available when the weather stabilizes. In the meantime, about a lakh people and thousands of cattle took refuge in the district's 359 shelter centers, where dry food and fresh water were provided. Additional aid will be distributed as needed. Remarkably, no loss of life has been reported in the district so far.

Besides, various wild animals, including numerous deer, have perished due to a recent storm in the Sundarbans. The forest department has so far recovered 30 dead deer from the Katka area of the Sundarbans.

The Khulna Circle Forest Conservator, Mihir Kumar Dey confirmed that the Sundarbans were submerged under 10 to 12 feet of water, causing significant habitat loss for forest animals. On Tuesday, forest department members recovered 30 dead deer from the Katka Jamtala area, while six live deer were found inside the forest and seven in nearby localities. The dead deer were buried to prevent disease spread. Saltwater intrusion into hundreds of freshwater ponds has further complicated the situation, with at least 7-8 crores worth of infrastructure damage reported in areas such as Katka in Sagar Para, and the forest office and jetty in Dublar Char.

The forest plants have also been severely damaged, and a thorough damage assessment is ongoing. Cyclone Remal struck the coast through the Sundarbans on Sunday evening, with wind speeds reaching 120 km/h. Various areas across multiple districts, including Satkhira, Khulna, Bagerhat, Barguna, Patuakhali, and Bhola, have been flooded, trapping hundreds of thousands of people in water.

As the district begins to recover, the full extent of Cyclone Remal's impact will become clearer, and the affected communities will need significant support to rebuild their lives and livelihoods.