7 dead, 1M shifted as Cyclone Remal lashes South Asia

By , K24 Digital
On Mon, 27 May, 2024 17:43 | 3 mins read
Locals stand near the sea as Cyclone Remal made landfall in Bangladesh on May 26, 2024. PHOTO/K M Asad/LightRocket/CNN
Locals stand near the sea as Cyclone Remal made landfall in Bangladesh on May 26, 2024. PHOTO/K M Asad/LightRocket/CNN

At least seven people, including a child, have died in southern India as Tropical Cyclone Remal lashed the area with torrential rain and heavy winds.

A 12-year-old girl and her father were among those killed, as a poultry shed that was under construction collapsed in a village in the state of Telangana, Vadla Gautam, a senior district official, told CNN on Monday. The five others killed were also in Telangana.

More than 1 million people in India and Bangladesh were evacuated Sunday as the cyclone made landfall near the border between the two countries. The cyclone has continued to move inland across eastern India, toppling trees, turning roads into rivers and causing wide-scale damage.

The Indian Meteorological Department said it expected the cyclone to “gradually weaken” on Monday.

Authorities said that volunteers and army staff were mobilized to assist with clean-up efforts and distribute food and water to displaced families.

Locals stand near the sea as Cyclone Remal made landfall in Bangladesh on May 26, 2024. 
PHOTO/K M Asad/LightRocket/CNN

Remal made landfall roughly 80 kilometres (50 miles) southeast of the Indian city of Kolkata, packing gusts of up to 135 kilometres per hour (84 miles per hour), and is moving northwards across Bangladesh and its adjoining West Bengal coasts, the Indian Meteorological Department said.

The storm weakened after it hit the coast with wind speeds of up to 115 kilometres per hour (71 mph). Remal is expected to dump more than 89 millimetres (3.5 inches) of rain and bring wind-driven storm surges of 2.5 to 3.7 meters to the coasts of the Bay of Bengal, according to CNN Weather.

The maritime ports of Mongla and Payra in Bangladesh put up the Great Danger Signal 10 — the highest alert signal — on Sunday, and all fishing and boating vessels were advised to remain in shelter by the Bangladesh Meteorological Department.

About 2 million people live in storm-affected areas in Bangladesh, according to non-profit BRAC.

At least half a million of these people “live in houses made of materials such as clay, wood, plastic sheets, straw or tin,” said Dr. Md Liakath Ali, a disaster expert at BRAC.

People are riding on a scooter as rains hit Kolkata, India ahead of Cyclone Remal's landfall on May 26, 2024. 
Sudipta Das/NurPhoto/CNN

The country is one of the world’s most vulnerable to the impacts of the climate crisis, studies show.

Millions are without power as authorities shut down electricity supply to many areas in advance to avoid accidents, according to Ali. Fallen trees and broken lines disrupted supply, he said.

An especially vulnerable group are the stateless Rohingya communities who fled persecution in nearby Myanmar during a military crackdown in 2017. They are already living in the world’s largest refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, which is at risk of landslides and floods, owing to the flimsy structure of their shelters. Many live in bamboo and tarpaulin shelters perched on hilly slopes that are vulnerable to strong winds, rain, and landslides.

Video taken by a BRAC volunteer early Monday in Mongla showed a woman struggling to walk through the floodwaters as gusts of wind nearly toppled her over.

In India, a video from the country’s National Disaster Response Force showed workers removing broken trees in the state of West Bengal as heavy rain lashed down on them. The Coast Guard was seen closely monitoring Remal’s landfall, with ships and hovercraft on standby to respond to any challenges, it said.

Hundreds of flights were also impacted following the closure on Sunday of the main international airport in the Indian city of Kolkata, West Bengal state’s capital. Air traffic in and out of the airport resumed on Monday, but disruptions continued with dozens of flights delayed, according to the airport’s official website.

Tropical Cyclone Remal has been churning across the Bay of Bengal since late last week prompting authorities to prepare ahead of its arrival.

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