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22 Killed as Cyclone Bulbul Smashes Bengal, Odisha & Bangladesh; Trees Uprooted, Power Lines Snapped

The cyclone season in the Bay of Bengal can last from April to December. In 1999 a super-cyclone battered the coast of Odisha for 30 hours, killing 10,000 people.

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Updated:November 11, 2019, 7:32 AM IST
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22 Killed as Cyclone Bulbul Smashes Bengal, Odisha & Bangladesh; Trees Uprooted, Power Lines Snapped
A woman is seen inside her damaged house after cyclone Bulbul hit the area in Khulna, Bangladesh (Reuters)

New Delhi/Dhaka: At least 10 people were killed in Bangladesh and West Bengal each and two in Odisha after cyclone Bulbul smashed into coastal areas this weekend, bringing in its wake torrential rains coupled with howling gales and ravaging the coastlines.

In Bangladesh

The cyclone packed winds of up to 120 kilometres per hour (kph) when it made a predawn landfall before weakening into a deep depression, forcing the authorities to evacuate over 21 lakh people from the low-lying areas. Private TV channels quoting unofficial sources said the Cyclone Bulbul claimed 10 lives. However, the Disaster Management Ministry confirmed only eight deaths.

The cyclone packed winds of up to 120 kilometres per hour (kph) when it made a predawn landfall before weakening into a deep depression, forcing the authorities to evacuate over 21 lakh people from the low-lying areas. Private TV channels quoting unofficial sources said the Cyclone Bulbul claimed 10 lives. However, the Disaster Management Ministry confirmed only eight deaths.

Disaster Management Ministry's Secretary Shah Kamal said they initially planned to evacuate 14 lakh people to 5,000 cyclone shelters, however by Saturday midnight, the figure rose to over 21 lakh.

Authorities also suspended all activities in the country's seaports, including in Chattogram Port, which handles almost 80 per cent of Bangladesh's exports and imports.

According to US-based AccuWeather Inc, Bulbul strengthened from a deep depression into a tropical cyclone on Thursday morning, and by Friday afternoon had strengthened into a severe cyclone. Bulbul was the equivalent of a Category 1 or 2 hurricane in the Atlantic, it said.

In West Bengal

The severe cyclonic storm uprooted hundreds of trees and snapped cables in the city and in the coastal districts of North and South 24 Parganas and East Midnapore, bring life to a near-halt.

State Disaster Management minister Javed Khan said that at least 2,473 houses were destroyed and another 26,000 were partially damaged in the cyclone in the coastal districts along the Bay o Bengal, with the fishing towns of Bakkhali and Namkhana being among the worst-affected areas.

He said that while 2.73 lakh families were affected in the storm, 1.78 lakh people were moved to relief camps set up in nine places of the state. 'Bulbul' claimed the lives of five persons in separate incidents in North Parganas alone, an official said.

According to a senior police officer, a septuagenarian woman, Suchitra Mandal, died at Purba Makala village in Basirhat area of the district when a tree fell on her. Several trees were also uprooted at Gokhna village, one of which claimed the life of Reba Biswas (47).

Manirul Gazi (59) was the third casualty in North 24 Parganas. He was electrocuted to death after coming in contact with a lamp post, the officer added. Two more deaths, one due to wall collapse and another after coming under a falling tree, were also reported in the district, a state government official said.

In East Midnapore, too, a man died after he was crushed by a falling tree. Two persons died in South 24 Parganas district in cyclone-related incidents, the official said.

Body of one fisherman from Fraserganj fishing harbour in South 24 Parganas was recovered, a senior official of state Disaster Management department said. Eight other fishermen and four trawlers from Fraserganj were still missing, the official said.

Earlier, on Saturday, even before the cyclone hit the coast, an employee of a renowned club in the city was killed when a branch of a cedar tree fell on him during heavy rain. The minister said that 46,000 tarpaulin sheets were distributed among people whose residences were damaged in the cyclone.

Gale wind with gusts up to 135 kmph prevailed over the coastal districts of South 24 Parganas and East Midnapore and its adjoining areas in North 24 Parganas as the cyclone made landfall around midnight on Saturday.

Torrential rain lashed the metropolis throughout Saturday, forcing people to remain indoors. Hundreds of uprooted trees blocked thoroughfares in the state capital and its fringe areas, even as people braved the adverse conditions to come out of homes as the weather improved on Sunday afternoon. The NDRF, along with the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC), police and fire personnel, is working on a war footing to clear road blockades caused by fallen trees and branches.

"We have already engaged workers to clear the roads and pump out water from low-lying areas. We are hopeful our work will be over by tonight," said a KMC official. Khan said, all emergency services have been put in place to ensure that the uprooted trees are removed at the earliest.

In Odisha

Heavy rain and high-velocity winds triggered by cyclone 'Bulbul' claimed at least two lives and wreaked havoc in most parts of coastal Odisha, officials said on Sunday. A National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel was seriously injured during restoration operation in Bhadrak district, Additional District Magistrate (ADM) Shyama Bhakta Mishra said.

The cyclone also caused extensive damage to crops in the coastal districts, leaving farmers in the lurch, the officials said. Though it skipped Odisha and made landfall between West Bengal and Bangladesh coasts on Saturday, heavy downpour and gale-force winds left a trail of destruction, damaging hundreds of houses, uprooting trees, electric poles and affecting telecom towers in the state, they said.

While the death of an elderly man was reported earlier owing to wall collapse in Kendrapara on Saturday, another casualty due to drowning came to light on Sunday in Mahakalapada area of the district, a senior official said.

Manoranjan Prasad, who headed an NDRF unit, was busy clearing uprooted trees in Basuvedpur area when an electric pole fell on him, Mishra said. He was rushed to a nearby hospital and then shifted to SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack.

The authorities had put in place elaborate arrangements to deal with the impact of the cyclonic storm in over 10 of Odisha's 30 districts. Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Bhadrak and Balasore districts bore the maximum brunt and suffered extensive damage to crops, the senior official said. Around 40 per cent standing crops and over six lakh hectares of cultivable land spread over five districts have been damaged due to rain and strong winds triggered by 'Bulbul', Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) P K Jena.

Revenue Divisional Commissioner (Central) Anil Samal, who visited several parts of Bhadrak district, said standing crops in Chabdbali, Dhamra and Basudevpur areas suffered major damage. Power supply has been restored in most affected areas, while almost all the roads have been cleared of uprooted trees, the officials said.

The cyclone season in the Bay of Bengal can last from April to December. In 1999 a super-cyclone battered the coast of India's Odisha state for 30 hours, killing 10,000 people.

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