Description of the disaster
Cyclone Amphan formed on 16 May 2020 over the Indian Ocean and started moving north over the Bay of Bengal, towards north-east India coastal areas and south of Bangladesh. According to Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD)’s special weather bulletin dated 19 May, the ‘super cyclone’ Amphan was lying over west central Bay and adjoining area and moved north to northeast wards and over same area and was centred at 06:00 of 19 May about 890km southwest of Chattagram port, 840km southwest of Cox’s Bazar port, 785km south-southwest of Mongla port. It was forecasted likely to move in a north-easterly direction and may cross Bangladesh coast between KhulnaChattogram during late night of 19 May to afternoon/evening of 20 May.
On 20 May, the BMD issued “great danger”2 signal number 10 for costal districts of Satkhira, Khulna, Bagerhat, Jhalokathi, Pirojpur, Borguna, Patuakhali, Bhola, Barisal, Laxmipur, Chandpur and their off-shore islands and chars.
Under the influence of the ‘very severe’ cyclonic storm Amphan, it was anticipated that Feni, Chattagram and their offshore islands and chars are likely to be inundated by storm surge of 4 to 5 feet height above the normal astronomical tide. The total coastal districts were likely to experience wind speed up to 140 to 160kmph in gusts/squalls with heavy to very heavy falls during the passage of storm. All fishing boats and trawlers over North Bay and deep sea have been advised to take shelter immediately and will remain in the shelter till further notice. Following the great danger signal and evacuation order of the Government of Bangladesh (GoB), more than 2.4 million people were moved to 14,636 permanent and temporary shelters in 19 coastal districts before the cyclone hit the country's coast. During this time, the number of shelters has been increased considering the physical distancing norm and guidelines due to COVID-19.
Cyclone Amphan had weakened from a super cyclone to an "extremely severe cyclonic storm" between the 20th and the 21st May 2020, causing strong winds and heavy rain in parts of Odisha, West Bengal in India and Bangladesh coastal areas as it advanced towards the India-Bangladesh coast. On 20 May 2020, it slammed into the coastal districts of West Bengal, India and then it entered Bangladesh at evening with wind speed of 150kmph and drove its destruction among 26 districts across the country. According to different sources, Cyclone Amphan affected more than a million people in nine districts in Khulna and Barishal divisions of Bangladesh on 20 May. UNDP reports that:
• 26 people were killed
• 55,667 houses were completely damaged, and around 162,000 partially damaged
• approximately 149,000 hectares of agriculture lands and fish farms worth about BDT 3.25 billion (CHF 36 million) were damaged • millions of trees were uprooted
• 150kms of protection embankments were washed away at 84 points in 13 districts
• 200 bridges and culverts, and 100km of roads were damaged
• about 15 million clients lost electricity • many freshwater ponds inside forests were flooded with seawater
• approximately 18,235 water points and 40,894 latrines were destroyed in most impacted districts
• preliminary estimates of total cost of damages caused by the cyclone is BDT 11 billion (CHF 123 million)
• The coastal region of Cox’s Bazar did not suffer the brunt of the cyclone except for some minor wind damages and heavy rains.
Summary of current response
Overview of Host National Society
BDRCS along with IFRC Country Office (CO) and other Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement partners closely monitored the situation as it developed and at the same time coordinating closely with the GoB at national and district levels. Following the formation of the cyclone at Bay of Bengal, BDRCS and IFRC have attended the Cyclone Preparedness Programme (CPP)4 implemented board meeting at Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief (MoDMR) regularly. In addition, BDRCS unit officials and volunteers regularly attended the coordination meeting with GoB and other local agencies at the district level. As of 22 May, BDRCS has taken the following actions:
• Worked together with CPP as per government directives to implement life-saving cyclone readiness activities in line with COVID-19 situation in all vulnerable unions of the 13 coastal districts, including the camp settlements in Cox's Bazar.
• Deployed more than 70,000 volunteers, including 55,556 CPP volunteers, Red Crescent Youth (RCY) volunteers, community volunteers and camp volunteers in Cox’s Bazar camps, who have been trained in first aid, search and rescue and disaster management. They disseminated the early warning messages among community and camp people. Later on, they helped the local authorities to evacuate people to cyclone shelters, provide first aid support, except camp settlements in Cox’s Bazar. BDRCS volunteers also provided masks, hand sanitizers and soaps to the people in some 40 cyclone shelters.
• Conducted six forecast monitoring virtual meetings through Zoom to track and analyze the potential risk of Cyclone Amphan. BDRCS triggered the cyclone Early Action Protocol (EAP) on 18 May as the triggering thresholds have exceeded based on forecasts and predicted impact. According to the EAP, BDRCS implemented early actions targeting 20,000 most vulnerable people in Shatkhira, Khulna, Bagerhat, Potuakhali and Pirojpur districts. Under this EAP, BDRCS together with CPP volunteers supported the evacuation of people, livestock and moveable assets (through vehicles), and provided food, water and basic first aid service at the cyclone shelters. BDRCS targeted 40 cyclone shelters in 10 unions in the above mentioned five districts.
• Conducted six emergency coordination meetings with incountry Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement partners between 19 to 22 May. National Disaster Response Team (NDRT), National Disaster WASH Response Team (NDWRT) and Unit Disaster Response Team (UDRT) were on stand-by.
Several hundred Red Crescent Youth (RCY) volunteers engaged with CPP volunteers in disseminating early warning messages, evacuation of the people to the cyclone shelters, distributing dry food and drinking water as well as providing first aid services to people taking shelter.
• NDRT members conducted a rapid assessment to get the damage information and government damage form has also been collected from different affected districts.
• In Cox's Bazar, BDRCS with IFRC and its partners, were leading the coordination in cyclone preparedness along with CPP, Refugee Relief Repatriation Commission (RRRC) Office,
Inter-Sectoral Coordination Group (ISCG), site management and other clusters.
• Updated its disaster preparedness stock at Dhaka and Chattogram warehouses to meet the immediate needs of affected people.
• As part of immediate response, allocated 1200 tarpaulins, 750 shelter tools kit, 1200 hygiene kits and 500 jerry cans in three of the most affected districts (Satkhira, Khulna and Jashore).
• Allocated money for repairing 200 tub-wells and for installing 100 communal latrines. Apart from this, BDRCS plans to deploy mobile medical teams in those areas.
• Reached 36,365 people at 192 shelter centres in ten districts namely, Barguna, Patuakhali, Bagerhat, Bhola, Laxmipur, Noakhali, Khulna, Shatkhira, Jhalokathi and Pirojpur through dry food distribution. 694 RCY volunteers supported the process.
• Issued a condolence letter for a CPP volunteer who was died in a boat capsize incident during early warning dissemination of Cyclone Amphan on 20 May 2020.
• Following the request from BDRCS, Imminent Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) of CHF 293,810 has been approved by IFRC. BDRCS has started undertaking necessary actions to implement planned activities.
• Following the rapid damage and need assessment information from the field, a joint team of BDRCS, IFRC and partner National Societies is working on an emergency appeal and its plan of action.
Overview of Red Cross Red Crescent Movement in country
IFRC CO in Bangladesh is keeping close coordination with BDRCS, in-country Movement partners and the Asia Pacific Regional Office (APRO) in Kuala Lumpur. IFRC CO team is also keeping close coordination with the Humanitarian Country Cluster Team (HCCT), other in-country clusters and sectors both at Dhaka and Cox’s Bazar levels.