Actus Réunion

Cyclone Remal : Au moins 16 morts au Bangladesh et en Inde

Violent winds and strong waves continue to hit the coasts of India and Bangladesh on Monday, where at least sixteen people have died, thousands of homes have been destroyed, and cities flooded by the powerful cyclone Remal.

« At least 10 people have been killed by the cyclone, » said Mohibbur Rahman, Bangladeshi Minister in charge of Disaster Management to the press.

Villages have been submerged by storm surges, tin roofs ripped off, trees uprooted, and power lines cut, observed an AFP journalist in the affected area.

More than 12.5 million people have been left without electricity, said Biswanath Sikder, Chief Engineer of the Bangladesh Rural Electrification Board, the country’s largest public electricity distribution company.

In the flooded streets of Chittagong, the second largest city in Bangladesh, 240 millimeters of rain were recorded, according to the Bangladesh Meteorological Department.

An important embankment in Manpura, in the Bhola district of Bangladesh, was damaged during the cyclone.

100,000 people to be rescued

« The embankment protecting the city of Manpura was broken by the power of the waves and rain from the cyclone, » said Showkat Ali, government administrator of the Barisal district.

At least 800,000 Bangladeshis have fled the country’s coast, according to authorities, while more than 150,000 people in India have moved away from the sea, leaving the Sundarbans forest region where the Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Meghna rivers flow into the Bay of Bengal.

In neighboring India, « at least six people » have died, said Sumit Gupta, a senior official in the government of West Bengal state (east), whose main city, Kolkata, is flooded.

« The cyclone swept the roofs off hundreds of houses » and also « uprooted thousands of mangrove trees and electric poles, » detailed the state’s Chief Minister, Bankim Chandra Hazra, to AFP.

« Storm surges and rising sea levels destroyed a number of embankments, » added Mr. Hazra. « Some island villages are flooded. »

Extreme winds

Sumita Mondal, 36, who spent the night away from the Indian coast, said she fled with whatever she could carry.

« My three-year-old son is crying, he wants food, » she told AFP by phone.

During the peak of the cyclone, wind speeds reached up to 111 km/h, said Muhammad Abul Kalam Mallik, a senior official at the Bangladeshi meteorological service.

By Monday afternoon, the cyclone had weakened into a storm, but the winds and rain continued to sweep the coast.

Cyclones have killed hundreds of thousands of people in Bangladesh in recent decades, and the number striking its low-lying and densely populated coast has sharply increased, from one to three per year, due to climate change.

Most coastal areas of Bangladesh are situated one to two meters above sea level.

According to Muhammad Abul Kalam Mallik, the mangrove in the Sundarbans region helped absorb the worst of the cyclone.

But according to Abu Naser Mohsin Hossain, a senior forest official in Bangladesh for the Sundarbans, the storm has flooded vital freshwater areas with saltwater.

« We are worried, » he said. « These ponds are a source of freshwater for all the wildlife in the mangroves, including the Bengal tigers, an endangered species. »


Le Quotidien

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