Bangladesh: Cyclone Mahasen lands
Today, Cyclone Mahasen hit the south east of Bangladesh, with wind speeds of up to 57 mph.
It has not so far proved as damaging as previous cyclones Aila (2009) and Sidr (2007), but having to evacuate your home at short notice in fear of a storm that threatens your life and safety is terrifying, particularly for children.
On its approach to us here in Bangladesh, the cyclone had already killed 10 and injured thousands in Sri Lanka, despite the fact that the eye of the storm didn’t even reach the island.
There have also been reports of a boat full of Rohingya people – an ethnic minority group from the Rokhine state in Myanmar – capsizing as people tried to evacuate to safer ground.
Full effects remain to be seen
With all this in mind, warning ratings were raised to 7 out of 10, and thousands of people were strongly encouraged by the government to leave their homes in favour of ready-made storm shelters.
So far, 2 people have been reported dead in Bangladesh, but the full effects of the storm will only be known once our staff, who have themselves had to hide in safe houses, go out this evening and tomorrow morning to assess damage.
We already know that some districts have been completely cut off from any form of communication, and parts of the region have no electricity or water supply.
The good news is that I’ve spoken to staff in the field who say that the sun is shining in Chittagong, Bangladesh’s second largest city located right in the path of the storm, and they think the weather is stabilising.
Save the Children’s response
Save the Children has already initiated a response, targeting the districts of Barisal, Patuakhai, Barguna, Khulna and Bagherhat, Satkhira, Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar, in partnership with 8 relief agencies based on the Bangladesh coast.
We have mobilized 5,000 youth volunteers trained in disaster risk reduction, as well as 700 village disaster management committees, who are all ready to respond.
We also have 4 speedboats and supporting emergency resources on standby, ready to respond to the needs of children and their communities in areas affected by storm surges and flooding.
Damage-assessment teams are also primed to begin work on a joint needs assessment with national and international NGOs, to ensure we are able to meet people’s needs.