On 16 May, Cyclone Mahasen made landfall in Patuakhali District of Southern Bangladesh causing widespread destruction and leaving 13 people dead. Of the ten coastal districts hit, the three districts of Patuakhali, Bhola and Barguna were the worst affected. The Government of Bangladesh has reported approximately 49,000 houses have been completely destroyed and 45,000 houses partially destroyed. Over 1.2 million people have been affected and 1.1 million people were evacuated.
Before its landing in Bangladesh, Cyclone Mahasen also caused heavy rainfall in Sri Lanka which led to floods and mudslides which killed 7 people and displaced approximately 7,000 people. In India, fishermen where advised not go out to the sea. The impact in Myanmar was less than initially expected, with over 200,000 people evacuated in Rakhine State of Myanmar.
Despite the widespread impact, many lives were saved due to the existing early warning system in place and close monitoring of the Cyclone by the local authorities, the Red Cross and other humanitarian organizations. Thousands of Red Cross/Red Crescent volunteers were mobilized to take part in evacuation of vulnerable communities in Bangladesh and Myanmar. Early warning messages were also disseminated through radio messages and loud speakers. For Bangladesh in particular, the damage of Cyclone Mahasen is drastically reduced in comparison with Cyclone Bhola in 1970 killing over 400,000 people and Cylcone Sidr in 2007 killing nearly 4,000. The progress is mainly due to increased capacity of communities after disaster risk reduction and preparedness activities.
Red Cross Red Crescent Actions
The Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS) and the local authorities evacuated 1.1 million people prior to the landfall of the cyclone to purposely-built shelters. BDRCS is conducting search and rescue operations, giving first aid, and distributing food and clean water to the affected population, especially in the remote islands of Patuakhali, Bhola and Barguna districts.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) have been providing technical support to the national societies on emergency coordination, communication and shelter. A total of approximately HKD 2.5 million has been mobilized from Disaster Relief and Emergency Fund (DREF) to support 20,000 beneficiaries in Bangladesh for 3 months.
Sri Lanka Red Cross (SLRCS) mobilized Branch Disaster Response Teams to assist with evacuations and support emergency response. SLRCS provided emergency relief items from its contingency stocks to the affected population.
Myanmar Red Cross Society (MRCS) mobilized 300 MRCS volunteers to assist the local authorities with the evacuation. Relief items for over 3,000 families have been stockpiled in key locations. In Myebon, MRCS share emergency warnings and advice via installed loud speakers and radios.
Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS) has been closely monitoring the situation in coordination with the partners
Hong Kong Red Cross Actions
The Hong Kong Red Cross (HKRC) is in close coordination with the International Red Cross, to monitor the situation. No appeal is launched from Hong Kong at the moment.
Since 2005 the HKRC has supported various Community Based Disaster Risk Reduction and similar programs through the International Red Cross in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and India. These programs aim to strengthen the resilience of vulnerable communities and their respective National Red Cross Societies to prepare and respond to disasters through the installation of early warning systems and training of volunteers and communities on disaster preparedness and response.
The HKRC also supported the procurement and prepositioning of emergency relief stocks in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and India on an ongoing basis through the International Red Cross, such as tarpaulins, hygiene kits, baby kits, kitchen sets and mosquito nets which can be mobilized to the affected communities in a timely manner.
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