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Cyclone Remal Batters Bangladesh for 36 Hours Among Longest Ever

Photo : AFP

Cyclone Remal Leaves Trail of Devastation in Bangladesh and India Cyclone Remal wreaked havoc as it made landfall in low-lying regions of Bangladesh and neighboring India on Sunday evening, unleashing fierce gales and relentless waves. The aftermath witnessed at least 38 casualties, thousands of homes destroyed, seawalls shattered, and cities inundated across both countries.

Bangladeshi meteorological experts, in a grim assessment on Tuesday, described Cyclone Remal as one of the fastest-forming and longest-lasting cyclones they had ever encountered, attributing the phenomenon to climate change. The storm battered Bangladesh for over 36 hours, surpassing the duration of previous cyclones like Cyclone Aila in 2009.

Azizur Rahman, Director of the Bangladesh Meteorological Department, highlighted the unprecedented duration of the cyclone's impact, emphasizing its relentless assault on the country's coastline.

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The calamity extended beyond fatalities and structural damage. Remal triggered torrential rains, causing severe flooding and breaching embankments, leading to saltwater intrusion into agricultural lands and freshwater fish farms. The disaster's toll reached approximately 3.75 million affected individuals, with over 35,000 homes completely destroyed and another 115,000 damaged.

The storm's swift formation and prolonged duration underscored the alarming influence of climate change. Meteorologist Rahman emphasized how Remal rapidly intensified from a low-pressure system in the Bay of Bengal, a phenomenon rarely witnessed in recent decades. He stressed that while cyclones typically take seven to eight days to evolve into severe cyclones, Remal accomplished this in just three days, indicative of climate change's accelerated impact.

Despite advancements in forecasting and evacuation procedures, Remal's wrath still claimed lives and inflicted widespread damage. Many residents, despite evacuation advisories, chose to remain to protect their homes, leading to tragic outcomes. Victims succumbed to drowning, debris, falling trees, and electrocution, exacerbating the humanitarian crisis.

The devastation extended to essential infrastructure, with over 20 million people in Bangladesh left without electricity due to widespread destruction of power lines and poles. In India, the storm claimed 21 lives, including quarry workers in Mizoram and casualties in West Bengal and Assam.

The Sundarbans mangrove forest, a vital natural barrier, mitigated some of Remal's impact, highlighting the critical role of mangrove ecosystems in shielding coastal areas from cyclonic fury. However, the broader threat of mangrove ecosystem collapse due to climate change, deforestation, and pollution looms large, underscoring the urgent need for global climate action.

May 28, 2024 4:52 p.m. 489

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