New Straits Times

14 dead as cyclone hits India, Bangladesh


KHULNA (Bangladesh): Fourteen people died and more than two 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 120kmph when it hit late on Saturday, closing ports and airports in both countries.

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

An eighth person died in a wall collapse in nearby Odisha state.

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

The cyclone also damaged some 4,000 mostly mud and zinc-roofed houses, Bangladesh’s Disaster Management secretary Shah Kamal said.

In coastal Khulna, the worst-hit district in Bangladesh, trees 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, Disaster Management 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 weather bureau deputy chief Ayesha Khatun said.

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 the Bengal tiger and Irrawaddy dolphin.

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

Some 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, 30, 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 mother of three .

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

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

Reports said India broke its 33year record last year, after having been hit by seven cyclones.

Typhoon Bulbul is the seventh cyclone of 2019, and the year has yet to end.

 ?? AFP PIC ?? Villagers walking past debris after Cyclone Bulbul hit Bakkhali area in West Bengal, India yesterday.
AFP PIC Villagers walking past debris after Cyclone Bulbul hit Bakkhali area in West Bengal, India yesterday.

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