Over a million people along the coastline from Patuakhali to Cox’s Bazar were evacuated. Thousands of people took refuge in cyclone shelters, on high ground and in administrative buildings. Seaports and airports remained shut.
But thanks to its prolonged and slow-pace advancement toward the Bangladesh coastline and resultant heavy precipitation overnight, the much-hyped cyclone Mahasen could not wreak that much havoc.
It fizzled out after passing through Feni-Sitakunda in the afternoon.
However, Mahasen left at least some marks of devastation — damaging mud and tin-houses, felling trees, claiming 15 lives, injuring scores and rendering many homeless in different districts.
Bhola, Patuakhali, Barguna, Pirojpur and Noakhali districts were the most affected, according to the National Disaster Response Coordination Centre (NDRCC).
The centre said seven people had died in Barguna, two in Bhola and one in Chittagong in the course of the cyclone. Our correspondents reported five more deaths — three in Patuakhali and two in Bhola.
Some among the deceased were identified as Abul Kashem, 75, Parvez, 6, and Nipa, 10, of Bhola, Syed Ali,75, Abir, 6, and Chan Mia, 70, of Barguna and Siraj Akanda, 80, Rezia Begum, 50, and Ishaq Mia, 70, of Patuakhali.
People living on remote shoals at the Meghna estuary were never safe enough to escape a cyclone impact. Many of the offshore chars in Barisal-Bhola regions were also washed over by high waves.
Disaster Management and Relief Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali said the number of casualties was very low because the government had moved around one million people in 15 vulnerable districts to 3,296 cyclone shelters well ahead of the cyclone hitting the Bangladesh coast.
While briefing reporters at his secretariat office yesterday, he also said the government had sent 5,000 tonnes of rice and Tk 10 crore in aid to 15 deputy commissioners of the districts concerned.
“To tackle the aftermath, we kept ready 19 helicopters, 22 vessels of the Navy and four aircraft,” he added.
The fury of the cyclone snapped road, water and air communications in offshore areas. Telecommunications also remained disrupted at places as several mobile phone towers had been uprooted.
The storm surge washedaway flood protection dams through its trajectory.
About 1,000 thatched houses were completely damaged and more that 2,000 houses were partially damaged in Mujibnagar union of Charfasson upazila in Bhola, according to sources.
A few cracks have developed on dams at Char Nelin and Char Motahar in Mujibnagar union and rainwater has been entering the lowlands of the area.
Talking to The Daily Star, Anisur Rahman, project implementation officer of Charfassion Upazila Control Room, said the cyclone lashed Char Kukri Mukri, a remote island of Bhola, around 10:00am, causing much damage to property.
The cyclone struck Monpura upazila around 12:30pm, according to the control room sources.
Around 9:00am yesterday, Mahasen had landfall at Kuakata in Patuakhali after journeying over 1,700 kilometres from its place of origin in the Bay of Bengal.
At least 100 people were injured and thousands affected in different upazilas, said upazila nirbahi officer Md Liakat Ali.
Shanti Ranjan, district relief and rehabilitation officer, said at least 70,419 people had been affected, 7,540 houses destroyed and 18,238 houses damaged partially in the cyclone yesterday, reports our Patuakhali correspondent.
The official said around 1,09,332 people took shelter in 298 shelters in the district.
The authorities were able to provide electricity services on a limited scale at 6:10pm in Patuakhali town, but services have remained snapped elsewhere in the district since Wednesday night.
The district met office has recorded 243mm rainfall between Wednesday night and yesterday noon.
Robi crops on nearly 50,000 hectares of land have completely been destroyed and around 200 fish enclosures have gone under water.
Road communications with the rest of the country remains suspended as a pontoon of Hajipur ferry ghat on Patuakhali-Kuakata road has been submerged by floodwaters.
Kalapara upazila is the worst affected area in Patuakhali, said Amitabh Sarkar, deputy commissioner of the district.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has called upon the people of the country to offer special prayers at mosques and other religious institutions to express gratitude to the Almighty for saving the country from devastation.
“We were seriously concerned about the cyclone. Now it’s over. I express my gratitude to Almighty Allah, who has saved us from the devastating strike of the cyclone,” she said while addressing a meeting of the ruling Awami League-led 14-party combine at her Gono Bhaban residence.
She said the government had made all-out preparations to deal with the post-cyclone situation.