Sunday, September 24, 2023

Bangladesh escapes worst of Mocha impacts

News Desk :

Bangladesh largely escaped the worst impacts of very severe cyclone Mocha, as the storm barely touched the country’s southeastern tip while making landfall on Sunday afternoon on the Bangladesh-Myanmar coast.

The cyclone, however, made a mess of St Martin’s island, about 9km south of the southeastern tip of mainland Bangladesh, with a battering wind of up to 147 kph, levelling about 1,100 houses, and snapping 3,200 trees.

‘As many as 700 poor families found their shanties vanished without a trace,’ said Mujibur Rahman, chairman St Martin’s Union Parishad.

About 250 semi-pucca houses were also damaged in the cyclone, in addition to scores of shops blown away by the cyclone’s wind on the island.

Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner Mohammed Mizanur Rahman told that some 1,300 shanties were damaged fully or partially in the Rohingya camps that were in the path of the cyclone.

‘These houses will be rebuilt over the next two to three days,’ Mizanur said.

Temporary houses were also damaged, and almost all tall trees were either uprooted or broken in areas such as Teknaf and Ukhia, two upazilas in Cox’s Bazar, according to local government officials.

The cyclone completed crossing the Bangladesh coast at 6:00pm and weakened into a land deep depression near Sittwe, Myanmar, as it kept moving north and northeastward, said the Bangladesh Meteorological Department in its final bulletin on the cyclone.

The cyclone was likely to move further inland and gradually weaken, giving precipitation, the BMD bulletin said, urging the maritime ports of Chattogram, Cox’s Bazar, Payra, and Mongla to lower their signals to local cautionary signal three.

The BMD advised fishing boats and trawlers to remain in the shelter until further notice.

‘I consider the cyclone stronger than the 1991 cyclone in terms of the strength of the wind,’ said Mujibur Rahman.

Tin roofs were peeled away from houses in the unwavering wind, which caused tall trees to sway like rubber toys until they mostly snapped.

St Martin’s island saw the wind blowing over the tiny coral island exceed 100kph around 1:00 pm, and then pick up and continue blowing with almost the same ferocity for several hours.

At 9:00pm, the wind ceased amid broken spells of drizzle.

Cottages and some hotels built on the popular tourist destination of St Martin’s island were also damaged in the cyclone that killed at least three people in neighbouring Myanmar.

The centre of Cyclone Mocha made landfall Sunday afternoon in Myanmar’s Rakhine state near Sittwe township with wind speeds up to 209 kpm (130 mph), reported Associated Press, quoting Myanmar’s Meteorological Department.

AP reported that the storm had damaged houses, electrical transformers, cell phone towers, boats, and lampposts in Sittwe, Kyaukpyu, and Gwa townships and triggered landslides.

‘The cyclone left its footprint in the destruction of trees and temporary houses in Teknaf,’ Md Kamruzzaman, upazila nirbahi officer, Teknaf, told New Age.

Kamruzzaman said that heavy winds damaged almost all trees in Teknaf and many betel leaf farms.

An estimate of the damage caused by the cyclone was not available immediately, he said, adding that the most affected place was Sabrang union.

People, who took shelter in cyclone shelters in Cox’s Bazar, began leaving for their houses amidst drizzle just before dusk.

Authorities had evacuated 392,628 people to cyclone shelters, who passed an anxious night seeing Mocha turn into a super cyclone with the wind blowing up to 296kph and producing 50-foot waves.

The cyclone, however, lost its strength near the coast, where the temperature was relatively low and rugged terrain held back the storm from inflicting catastrophic damage.

The Sunday morning broke with entire Bangladesh holding back its breath with many ominous thoughts, but it was not until noon that the storm arrived with high winds and rain.

Around 1:00pm, the Bangladesh Meteorological Department went live on television channels, describing that its three-storey building was trembling in powerful winds.

The centre of the cyclone, however, passed over the tiny island at 3:00pm, the BMD said.

In the 24 hours until 6:00pm on Sunday, St Martin’s island recorded 74mm of rain.

Inland river transportation remained closed on Sunday.

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