UN praises Bangladesh for evacuation ahead of cyclone Mahasen

One million people evacuated from 13 coastal districts 24 hours before landfall; 13 fatalities reported so far

The government of Bangladesh has received praise from the United Nations for its timely evacuation of about one million people before tropical cyclone Mahasen hit its coastline on May 16.
In a statement released on May 20, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says, “While tropical storm Mahasen reached the coastline of Bangladesh on Thursday weaker than anticipated, the preparedness work undertaken by the government and humanitarian partners saved countless lives.”

Prepared for disaster

Bangladesh has had a history of cyclones, which prompted the institution of a cyclone preparedness programme in 1972.  Ahead of the cyclone’s arrival on the coast, the government of Bangladesh set in motion several measures. Thousands of community volunteers were mobilised; alerts and information were sent to at-risk communities in the country, and cash payments were paid in advance. The government also collaborated with international humanitarian partners to ensure that a coordinated response was on standby. An estimated one million people were evacuated from 13 coastal districts in the 24 hours before Mahasen hit.
 
Preliminary assessments indicate that there have been 13 fatalities, though the numbers could have been much more. OCHA said it would continue to work with Bangladesh to restore livelihoods, shelter and provide clean water, sanitation and hygiene in affected areas.

Susceptible state

Bangladesh, one of the most densely populated countries in the world, is also one of the most disaster-prone, and is particularly susceptible to cyclones and floods. The funnel-shaped northern portion of the Bay of Bengal causes tidal bores when cyclones make landfall, putting people living in coastal areas at risk. Some of the most devastating natural disasters in recorded history with high casualties were tropical cyclones that hit the regionh. Cyclone Bhola hit Bangladesh in 1971 and killed more than 400,000 people.

However, the government’s emphasis on cyclone preparedness has significantly reduced the fatalities due to these natural phenomena. In 2009, when Cyclone Aila struck, many volunteers helped move thousands of people out of the disaster area. The death toll from that tragedy was less than 200

Role of climate change in tropical cyclones still unclear

Role of climate change in tropical cyclones still unclear

Thomas Knutson is a research meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the US. He was the co-chairperson of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) team on tropical cyclones and climate change which publicised its results in 2010. He speaks to Dinsa Sachan on the impact of climate change on tropical cyclones on the sidelines of the second international conference on Indian Ocean Tropical Cyclones and Climate Change, from February 14 to 17, in Delhi. Excerpts:

Help on-line

Help on-line

A new cyclone prediction model will indicate the severity of a cyclone at least 12 hours in advance

Soon, an early warning system for cyclones and floods

Soon, an early warning system for cyclones and floods

Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System (RIMES) for Africa and Asia was put in place soon after the 2004 tsunami hit the Indian shores, causing widespread damage along the coast of India and several southeast Asian countries. Headquarted in Bangkok, RIMES is a UN registered international organisation and intergovernmental body that provides tsunami warning to its member countries. It has been operational for the past three years. On June 21, ministers and other representatives from 13 member and collaborating countries met for the first time in India. Dinsa Sachan spoke to K J Ramesh, senior scientist and adviser to ministry of earth sciences and head of RIMES India, about the organisations future and India's role in the international effort. Edited excerpts:

Role of climate change in tropical cyclones still unclear

Role of climate change in tropical cyclones still unclear

Thomas Knutson is a research meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the US. He was the co-chairperson of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) team on tropical cyclones and climate change which publicised its results in 2010. He speaks to Dinsa Sachan on the impact of climate change on tropical cyclones on the sidelines of the second international conference on Indian Ocean Tropical Cyclones and Climate Change, from February 14 to 17, in Delhi. Excerpts:

Author(s): Dinsa Sachan

@110 km/hr

Planners are yet to recognize the Sunderbans is increasingly vulnerable to rising sea level and intense cyclones. Despite the early warning, it did not reach islanders. Nor did relief. Millions are homeless; the 300 death count is only a conservative guess. Survivors narrate how they managed with an absentee government

@110 km/hr

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