Biting cold batters life
A record-breaking cold spell sent the mercury plummeting across the country yesterday, with Dinajpur experiencing 3.2 degrees Celsius, the lowest in almost half a century.
Many thousand people suffered badly as the persisting chilly weather with strong winds sent them packing home early, limiting their outdoor activities to only basic necessities.
The biting cold took at least three lives in Dinajpur, Rajshahi and Joypurhat yesterday, raising the cold-related death toll to 82 in the past one week, officials said.
Dhaka also bore the brunt of the chill as the city's temperature fell to 7.2 degrees Celsius yesterday from 9.6 degrees the previous day, Met office said.
Such a sharp fall in the temperature is an effect of climate change, said Atiqur Rahman, chief meteorologist of Rangpur Met office.
The freezing weather is likely to continue for another three to four days. The Met office forecast at least three more mild to moderate cold waves across the country at the end of this month.
The country's lowest temperature in 45 years was recorded at 2.8 degrees Celsius in Sreemangal of Moulvibazar in 1968, Arif Hossain, an assistant at the Dhaka Met office, told The Daily Star.
This year's lingering cold waves brought immense sufferings to the poor and ultra poor who cannot afford warm clothes, said Abu Bakar, secretary general of Bangladesh Red Crescent Society.
At least 79 people died in last week alone due to cold-related complications in hospitals across the country, he added, citing records.
People, particularly in the worst-hit northern districts, remained mostly indoors while many businesses kept their shutters down.
However, the low-income people, roadside vendors and rickshaw pullers braved the bone-chilling cold to earn their living.
Farmers in the northern districts expressed fear of crops loss due to damaging of seedbeds by fogs and chilly weather.
ACROSS THE COUNTRY
After Dinajpur, Pabna saw the second lowest temperature at 3.9 degrees Celsius yesterday, the lowest in two decades.
Continuous cold spells paralysed civic life in the district, with cold-related diseases spreading alarmingly over the last three days.
â€œLow temperature would continue for two or three more days,â€ said Rajib Khan, an official of Ishwardi Met office.
Over the last three days, 298 children were admitted to Pabna Medical College Hospital with cold-related diseases, including pneumonia, bronchitis and diarrhoea, said Sohel Rana Milon, a hospital staff.
In Rajshahi, the lowest temperature was recorded at 4.4 degrees Celsius, the lowest in a decade. Last year's lowest temperature was 4.8, reports our district correspondent citing local Met office.
An infant died at Rajshahi Medical College Hospital yesterday as the bitter cold coupled with fog and wind gripped the northwestern district.
Dinajpur, that saw the lowest temperature in the country yesterday, had on January 17, 1996, experienced a temperature of 3.8 degrees Celsius, said Md Asiqur Rahman, a senior observer of the local Met office.
The acute fall in temperature disrupted public life in Dinajpur and Joypurhat, with children and elderly people suffering the most.
At least 86 people, including children, were affected with cold-related diseases in Dinajpur.
Moudud Hossain, civil surgeon of Dinajpur Health Department, said at least 26 people of the district were admitted to different health complexes with diarrhoea in the last 24 hours.
Seventy-five-year-old Shahjahan Ali of the district's sadar upazila died of a stroke due to cold, he added.
In Joypurhat, around 60 people, including children, were admitted to health complexes with pneumonia and diarrhoea in the last 24 hours, said Noman Chowdhury, superintendent of Joypurhat Modern Hospital.
Tofazzal Hossain, 75, died due to the severe cold yesterday, Noman confirmed.
Mercury dipped to the lowest 4.2 degrees Celsius in Rangpur yesterday, which is the lowest in the district in 16 years.
The lowest temperature in Bogra was recorded at 4.9 degrees Celsius while 4.2 degrees Celsius in Lalmonirhat.