By Himadri Ahsan, IFRC
The monsoon depression over the northeast Bay of Bengal and adjoining Bangladesh coast intensified into a cyclonic storm named ‘Komen’ on Wednesday, 29 July, threatening to cause further downpours in regions that are already affected by the recent flash floods and deadly landslides.
The centre of cyclone Komen made landfall along the coast of south-eastern Bangladesh between Hatiya and Sandwip islands late Thursday afternoon weakening as it moved slightly towards the northeast according to the latest situation report from the Bangladesh Meteorological Department that termed the cyclone as moderate.
The Bangladesh Red Crescent Society and International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) have been monitoring Komen as the storm developed over the past two days. The Red Crescent’s Cyclone Preparedness Programme (co-managed by the government) issued early warnings by way of high frequency radio communication in coastal districts. Red Crescent volunteers were also deployed in local communities to further disseminate the warnings and to help evacuate people to safe places.
Cyclone Komen has destroyed dozens of homes on Bangladesh’s southernmost point of Saint Martin’s island. 60,000 people were evacuated from coastal villages in the southern district of Cox’s Bazar following concerns over high waves.
The Red Crescent continues to monitor the situation with strong lines of communication in place, collecting information on an hourly basis from 15 district offices. Youth volunteers are on standby for emergency deployment. The IFRC also has contingency stocks of non-food relief items located in warehouses in Dhaka and Chittagong together with emergency water treatment plants already strategically positioned.
“A major area of concern is Cox’s Bazar, Bandarban and Chittagong districts, which have been badly affected by two earlier cycles of heavy rain and flash flooding, in June and July,” said David Easson, programme coordinator at the IFRC’s Bangladesh delegation. “The heavy rain in the last two days could lead families that are managing as best they can towards a situation of being very vulnerable, exhausting their limited coping mechanisms.”