Asani weakens, moves towards Indian coast
Severe Cyclonic Storm Asani lost its strength yesterday and was moving towards India's eastern coast.
It, however, caused incessant rains almost all over Bangladesh, damaging standing crops in many districts.
"Though Asani is still considered a severe cyclone, it is gradually weakening and moving towards Andhra Pradesh of India," said a meteorologist at Bangladesh Meteorological Department yesterday evening.
"There is nothing to panic... The cyclone will not cause any severe damage in Bangladesh. It'll rain across the country for the next two or three days due to the impact of the cyclone," the meteorologist said.
Asani was about 1,300 km southwest of Chattogram port and 1,160 km southwest of Payra port, said a weather bulletin of the Met department last night.
"It is likely to move in a north-westerly direction and weaken into a cyclonic storm... The maximum sustained wind speed within 64 kms of the severe cyclone centre is about 89 kph rising to 117 kph in gusts," it mentioned.
Chattogram, Cox's Bazar, Mongla and Payra ports have been advised to keep hoisted distant warning signal no-2.
All fishing boats and trawlers in the Bay of Bengal and deep sea have been advised to stay close to the coast and proceed with caution. They are also asked not to venture into the deep sea, said the bulletin.
"Light to moderate rain or thundershowers, accompanied by temporary gusty or squally wind, is likely to occur at most places in Rajshahi, Dhaka, Mymensingh, Khulna, Barishal, Chattogram and Sylhet divisions and also at many places in Rangpur division with moderately heavy to very heavy rains at various places across the country."
Meanwhile, Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) suspended operations of launches below 65 feet in length across the country since yesterday noon. Only those above 65 feet in length were allowed to ply.
"We will resume operation of small launches once the weather improves," Rafiqul Islam, director of BIWTA, told this newspaper.
Farmers mostly in the southern part of the country fear losses of crops due to incessant rains caused by the cyclonic storm.
In Patuakhali, many pulse and chili growers said heavy rains caused severe damage to their crops.
"I cultivated Mugdal and chili in around 25 decimals of lands. But the entire cropland is now submerged… I don't know whether the crops will survive…," said a dejected Ismail Khan, a farmer of Sonatala village in Kalapara upazila.
Rice growers in Pirojpur and Jhalakathi were worried that heavy rains would badly damage their crops.
"Our Boro crop is almost ripe… We were getting ready to harvest it by next week. But our paddy fields are now flooded due to incessant rain," said Faruk Sheikh, a farmer from Sikdermollik village of Pirojpur Sadar upazila.
At least seven watermelon farms in Barguna's Nimtala village were submerged due to heavy rains. Farmers said they would incur a loss of around Tk 7 lakh.
"We had a bumper watermelon production this year. Watermelon plants cannot withstand much water. This rain has damaged everything," said Nasir Khan, one of the farmers in the area.
The Cox's Bazar district administration has kept 576 cyclone shelters ready in case it needs to evacuate people from the coastal areas.
[Our correspondents from Patuakhali, Tangail, Pirojpur and Cox's Bazar contributed to the report]