In grip of bitter cold
A shivering cold coupled with dense fog pummelled the country, disrupting daily activities and communications by roads, rivers and air and spreading winter-related diseases.
Yesterday, Dhaka saw its lowest temperature of 11.5 degrees Celsius this winter and Chuadanga recorded the lowest temperature in the country of 8.4 degrees Celsius.
The weather caused immense sufferings to low-income people who needed to work outside, elderly people and children.
Because of the foggy weather, the sun was mostly invisible in many parts of the country, exacerbating the cold. Many fishermen did not go out fishing due to the bone-chilling cold wind.
The frigid weather condition, which has been continuing for the last few days, may continue for several days, said Shaheenul Islam, a meteorologist at Bangladesh Meteorological Department.
The fog coming from the country's rivers and the Ganges basin has created a thick layer that is obstructing the sunlight from breaking through.
"The situation will improve if the fog became thinner," he said, adding that the temperature may rise slightly today only to fall further later this week.
The temperature in most parts of the country decreased over the past few days, said Omar Faruk, another meteorologist.
A mild cold wave is sweeping across Rajshahi division and the districts of Faridpur, Madaripur, Kishoregonj, Dinajpur, Nilphamari, Panchagarh, Jashore, Chuadanga, Kushtia, Satkhira and Barishal and it may abate in some places, said the Met Office bulletin.
Temperature between 8 and 10 degrees Celsius is considered a mild cold wave, 6 and 8 degrees Celsius a moderate cold wave and less than 6 degrees Celsius a severe cold wave, met office sources said.
It feels colder than the readings suggest as the temperature has been more or less constant during the day and night, according to Bazlur Rashid, a meteorologist.
The difference in day and night temperature in the country is now less than 10 degrees Celsius.
As a result of the cold wave, childhood pneumonia cases and deaths have increased around the country as reflected in the number of patients in the two major hospitals of Dhaka.
Last month, 437 children with pneumonia were admitted to Bangladesh Shishu Hospital and Institute (BSHI) in Dhaka, up about 25 percent from November.
So far this month, 43 children died from the disease Shishu Hospital and a similar number of patients died in December, said Jahangir Alam, director of BSHI.
The number of child pneumonia patients is also increasing at Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH). On average, over the last seven days, 10 children are being admitted to the hospital. In November, the average 2 or 3 children, said Iffat Ara Shamsad, head of DMCH's paediatric department.
It is a similar scenario over at Thakurgaon.
On average, 150 people are admitted in the children's ward against 45 beds while about 350 people are admitted in the adult wards against 205 beds, said Noor Newaz, civil surgeon of Thakurgaon. Most of them are suffering from cold-related diseases.
The same situation is prevailing in Panchagarh Sadar Hospital, said Taufiq Ahmed, the hospital's resident medical officer.
In Bhola, hundreds of fishing boats are standing on the banks of river Meghna at Nirb Machi Ghat of Dhaniya Union of Bhola Sadar Upazila. They could not go fishing in the river in the last three days.
Over 350 fishing boats along with 1,700 fishermen in the union are now stationed on the banks of the Meghna due to strong northerly winds.
Fisherman Amir Hossain said he is out of work for the last five days due to the strong cold wind.
"It is very difficult to stay in the crop field due to cooler wind coming from the north for a week," said Manowar Hossain, a farmer in the Chakelahat area of Panchagarh Sadar Upazila.
The daily income has dropped in the last few days as the number of passengers has reduced drastically due to the chilling cold, said Rickshaw puller Kshitish Chandra Roy of Thakurgaon town.
The dense fog is also causing flight disruption at Dhaka airport in the last week.
Every flight is being diverted to different airports and almost all flights are delayed up to three to four hours due to the dense fog, said officials of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport.
Ferry services were suspended from 10:00pm yesterday on Paturia-Daulatdia route due to fog, reports our Manikganj correspondent.
BIWTA said ferries Shah Paran, Bir Shrestha Matiur Rahman, Shah Mokhdum and Hasna Hena got stranded mid river.
Meanwhile, 85-year-old Kamala Begum burnt to death while trying to warm herself with a fire inside her home in Singair of Manikganj.