The country yesterday registered the lowest temperature in five decades as mercury dipped to 2.6 degrees Celsius in Tentulia of Panchagarh, causing immense sufferings to people.
At least six people, including four infants, died and dozens of children with cold-related illness were admitted to hospitals at different places as cold wave has continued to sweep the country since Thursday.
Elderly people in some villages of Tentulia said they have not experienced such a cold spell in their lifetime.
"I cannot remember experiencing such biting cold in my life," said 70-year-old Afaz Uddin of Baroghoria.
The man said he could not keep himself warm at night even after putting on extra clothes and using a blanket.
According to Bangladesh Meteorological Department, the previous lowest temperature was 2.8 degrees Celsius in Sreemangal on February 4, 1968.
The lowest temperature recorded in Dhaka yesterday was 9.5 degrees Celsius.
However, the temperature in Dhaka and some other districts to its east is likely to fall by two to three degrees Celsius in the next two days.
The second and the third lowest temperatures were recorded at 2.9 in Syedpur and 3 degrees Celsius in Dimla of Nilphamari yesterday while the country's highest temperature was 25.6 degrees Celsius in Teknaf, said Abdur Rahman Khan, a meteorologist at the Dhaka Met Office.
The cold wave may continue for the next two days.
He said the velocity of the north-western wind sweeping the north-western part of the country has increased lately, intensifying the cold.
Bone-chilling cold coupled with icy winds hit people hard especially in Rangpur and Rajshahi divisions.
The ongoing cold spell badly affected labourers as many of them could not find work due to unfavourable weather.
“I failed to get any work for two consecutive days,” said Fizu Mia of Biral upazila in Dinajpur.
A severe cold wave (below 6 degree Celsius) is sweeping over Rangpur and Rajshahi divisions and also Tangail, Sreemangal and Chuadanga. A mild to moderate cold wave (below 8 degree Celsius) is being experienced in Mymensingh and Barisal divisions and some parts of Dhaka, Sylhet and Khulna divisions as well as Sandwip, Sitakunda, Comilla and Noakhali.
According to Met officials, the lowest temperature in Dinajpur was 3.2 degrees Celsius while it was 4.9 degrees Celsius in Rangpur and 4 degrees Celsius in Naogaon.
Paediatric wards of different hospitals in Chittagong are now overwhelmed with patients. Almost one-third of them are suffering from cold-related diseases, according to staffers at the hospitals.
Prof Basana Muhuri of the paediatric ward of Chittagong Medical College Hospital said the 124-bed hospital is now overwhelmed with around 300 patients.
A similar situation was found at Chattagram Ma O Shishu General Hospital.
"We have 250 beds in Child Health Ward unit, but the number of patients has exceeded the capacity. So we had to accommodate them in other less-busy wards including the ENT,” said Prof Mahmud A Chowdhury Arju, head of the hospital's paediatric ward.
In Panchagarh and Thakurgaon, the cold wave paralysed normal life, forcing people to stay indoors. Elderly people from the poor and low-income groups have been suffering badly.
Doctors said patients, especially the elderly and children with cold-related illnesses, have been thronging to hospitals in Panchagarh.
Monowarul Islam, a child specialist at Panchagarh Sadar Hospital, said over 100 children affected with cold-related illnesses had been given treatment there in the last two days.
Two people -- Nurul Islam, 57, of Ghoraghat upazila in Dinajpur, and Abdul Jalil, 65, of Raninagar upazila in Naogaon -- died from cold-related diseases, said their family members.
Besides, at least 24 children with cold-related illnesses, including diarrhoea and pneumonia, were admitted to different hospitals in Dinajpur and Rangpur in the last 24 hours till yesterday evening, said hospital sources.
Meanwhile, nine pneumonia patients and 31 diarrhoea patients were admitted to Kurigram General Hospital and Kurigram Upazila Health Complex yesterday, said sources at the hospitals.
In Rajshahi, four infants, including three newborns, died of pneumonia at Rajshahi Medical College Hospital till last evening.
Prof Sanul Haque Mia, chairman of the paediatrics department at the RMCH, said the babies could not be saved as they were brought to the hospital at the last moment.
According to hospital sources, 271 children were admitted to the hospital and 667 children were treated at the outdoor section for cold-related diseases since January 3.
FERRY SERVICE DISRUPTED
Ferry service on Paturia-Daulatdia river route remained suspended from 5:30am to 8:00am due to dense fog, creating long tailbacks on both sides.
The service resumed around 8:30am, said Nasir Mohammad Chowdhury, BIWTC manager at Aricha.
WARM CLOTHES DISTRIBUTED
Kazi Hasan Ahmed, divisional commissioner in Rangpur, said his office received 3,74,634 pieces of blankets which have already been sent to the deputy commissioners in eight districts under the division.
In Lalmonirhat, farmer Mofazzal Hossain, 62, of Char Gobordhan in Aditmari upazila, said he and his family members wrapped themselves in a thin blanket on Monday night to remain warm.
“We have no warm clothes,” he said.
The man said he could not work at his crop field for the last few days due to the biting cold.
Shafiul Arif, Deputy Commissioner in Lalmonirhat, told The Daily Star that 31,900 pieces of warm clothes have already been distributed among the poor.
[Our correspondents from Chittagong, Thakurgaon, Dinajpur, Lalmonirhat, Nilphamari, Rajshahi, Kurigram and Manikganj contributed to the report]