Patenga recalls 91 cyclone

Forecast of a fierce cyclonic storm Mahasen has stoked panic among the people on Patenga coast in Chittagong district and revived their horrifying memories of massive casualties and trail of devastation left by the cyclone on Apr 29, 1991.

Published : 15 May 2013, 12:28 PM
Updated : 15 May 2013, 12:30 PM

Many of the people, who had experienced the country's worst ever cyclone and tidal surge that claimed over 1,38,000 lives on that fateful night, are scared of reliving the devastation.

Meteorological Department said the cyclone was expected to make landfall early on Thursday. The Cox’s Bazar and Chittagong seaports were asked to hoist precautionary signal No. 7 on Wednesday.

Immediately after receiving a bulletin from the Met Office about the danger signal, local administration and different organisations started evacuating people from the risky areas along the coastline as Mahasen approached within around 600 kilometres of Bangladesh shoreline.

The people of Patenga were alerted about the disaster through loudspeakers on Wednesday so that they could shift to safe shelters before the cyclone hits.

Septuagenarian Jamar Ahmed of Muslimabad adjacent to the Pategna embankment had experienced the devastating cyclone of 1991. Learning from a past mistake he was all set to move to a cyclone shelter.

He told that he did not move to a safe shelter during that cyclone thinking its impact would not be very strong. That was a mistake. He was almost swept away by the tidal surge on that night.

"The sea and sky this time seem to be rough like that of '91. I've already packed up the essentials. I'll move to the cyclone centre (Wednesday night)," he said.

Md Noman, a resident of Charparha close to the sea beach, said: "We had not been alerted in 1991. We've packed the essentials, but the shelter is at a little far away from here. So we'll take shelter at our neighbours' building tonight."

After the issuance of the danger signal No 7, many of the people started packing their essentials though they had not started evacuating their houses as yet.

However, as it started to drizzle in the evening and the administration intensified its pressure, some people started scurrying for safety and cyclone shelters. Still, many people were staying back at their houses despite frequent alerts.
Nesar Ahmed of Charparha told "I've packed the essential things. I'll move for safety if the situation worsens."
Several thousand people from low-income group live in the coastal areas. The administration, Chittagong City Corporation and Red Crescent volunteers since noon were repeatedly urging them to evacuate the areas.
Owners of some 600 shops along the sea beach were seen shifting their goods.
A tea-stall owner ‘Lokman’ said apart from the local administration, the traders' association of the sea beach asked the shop owners to move out goods from the shops.
After the Met Office issued overnight danger signal No 7 on a scale of 10 for northeastern coastlines, a coordination meeting of the district administration at noon decided to evacuate the residents from the coastlines.
SM Abdul Kader, Additional Deputy Commissioner of Chittagong, who is working as the Convener of the Cyclone Preparatory Committee, said those who were unwilling to move out would be forcibly evacuated, if necessary.