Thousands in seven out of eight upazilas in Patuakhali district are under the risk of acquiring diarrhoea and other water-borne illnesses as tidal waters inflicted by cyclone Yaas left at least 715 deep tube wells in the region damaged.
The deep tube wells are located in 232 villages in the upazilas where inhabitants rely on those for freshwater as groundwater there has high levels of salinity.
Out of the damaged deep tube wells, 121 were damaged completely and 594 sustained partial damage, according to Public Health Engineering Department (PHED) in Patuakhali.
PHED Department Executive Engineer Fayez Ahmed said the tube wells got damaged after seawater from the Bay of Bengal inundated the tube wells when the cyclone swept through the coast.
The worst affected upazila is Baufal where 305 deep tube wells have been damaged. The second worst affected is Kalapara, with 241 damaged.
In other upazilas, 67 deep tube wells have been damaged in Rangabali, 45 in Sadar, 34 in Galachipa, 15 in Dashmina and 8 in Mirzaganj, he said, adding that work was underway to repair the tube wells as early as possible.
Jayanti Rani Dutta, assistant health inspector in Kalapara upazila, said residents in the affected villages are in dire need of potable water after sandy seawater submerged the tube wells in those areas.
People in these areas are already suffering from various water-borne diseases including diarrhoea and the situation might worsen with such a large number of deep tube wells gone out of commission overnight, she added.
The only deep tube well in Kuakata fishing village under Kalapara upazila also went out of order after the storm. Its handle has been lost and its pipeline has been clogged with sand and seawater.
Fisherman Sumon Sheikh, a resident of the village, said the tube well was the only source of potable water for more than 100 people, from 20 families, living in the village.
But with the tube well going out of service, their life would be quite difficult, as they would need to walk half a kilometre to fetch safe drinking water from a distant location, he also said.
Shawkat Hossain Biswas, chairman of Lalua Union Parishad in the upazila, said as a seven kilometre stretch from Nawapara to Charipara, along the Ramanabad river, does not have any embankment, 11 villages in the union were completely inundated by tidal waters as high as five feet.
The seawater water has receded from the area, but residents are in desperate need of hygienic potable water as the storm has rendered all the deep tube wells out of order, he also said, seeking urgent assistance of departments concerned in restoring the freshwater sources for residents of the affected areas.