Cyclone Remal Batters Bangladesh and India, Causing Power Outages and Damage

Cyclone Remal Batters Bangladesh and India, Causing Power Outages and Damage

Severe cyclone Remal struck the coastal regions of Bangladesh and India late Sunday, bringing strong winds and heavy rain that caused widespread power outages as power poles fell and trees were uprooted.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) reported that the storm, with wind speeds reaching up to 135 kmph (about 84 mph), made landfall near Bangladesh's Mongla port and India's Sagar Islands in West Bengal.

The cyclone began its landfall process around 9 PM local time in India and continued for about five hours, according to the regional meteorological office in Kolkata. The storm is expected to weaken into a cyclone by Monday morning and continue to diminish as it moves northeast, the IMD stated.

In Kolkata, one person was killed when falling concrete struck him during the storm's peak. Coastal areas in both countries saw thatched roofs blown off and mud houses flattened, with authorities still assessing the full extent of the damage.

The low-lying coasts of Bangladesh and India have been increasingly affected by severe storms in recent years, a trend attributed to rising sea surface temperatures due to climate change. Remal is the first cyclone of the year in the region.

Bangladesh evacuated around 800,000 people from Mongla, Chittagong, and nine coastal districts to storm shelters starting Sunday morning. In India, 110,000 people were also moved to shelters. Bangladesh set up nearly 8,000 cyclone shelters and deployed 78,000 volunteers, while the Indian navy readied ships, aircraft, divers, and medical supplies for potential deployment.

Early warnings and evacuations helped both countries avoid major casualties, though the storm heavily impacted power infrastructure. Bangladeshi authorities preemptively shut down electricity in many areas, and fallen trees and damaged lines left coastal towns without power.

In West Bengal, power minister Arup Biswas reported at least 356 uprooted electricity poles and numerous damaged transformers within the first hour of landfall. In Kolkata, more than 50 flights were canceled as operations were suspended from Sunday noon, with normal operations expected to resume at 9 AM, according to airport director C Pattavi.

The Sundarbans delta, the world’s largest mangrove forest shared by India and Bangladesh, saw high tides breach embankments, causing significant damage. Kolkata and its coastal belt experienced heavy rain and waterlogging, with reports of uprooted trees, blocked roads, and wall collapses. In Dhaka, Bangladesh's capital, the heavy rains led to road flooding and commuter disruptions.

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