Disaster Report 2013

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Chapter 1: Introduction

Bangladesh, one of the most vulnerable countries of the world in terms of natural and anthropogenic hazards, is a low-lying deltaic country covering an area of 147,470 sq. km and supporting about 150 million people with a population density of 1033 per km2 . The geographical setting and meteorological characteristics has made the country vulnerable to different geo-hazardsand hydro-metrological hazards. The major disasters concerned in the country are floods, cyclones, droughts, tidal surges, tornadoes, earthquakes, river erosion, fire, infrastructure collapse, high arsenic contents of ground water, water logging, water and soil salinity, epidemic, and various forms of pollution etc. These events are termed as disasters when they adversely affect the entire environment, including human beings, shelters and the resources essential for livelihoods.
This report is an overview of the disasters, both natural and human induced, which affected Bangladesh in 2013. The report has been prepared based on data available with BMD, BWDB,
DMIC, and concerned NGOs. Various daily newspapers were also reviewed to gather relevant information. Case studies on Cyclone Mahasen, Tornado of Brahmanbaria and building collapse of Rana Plaza were also developed to complement the report.

Chapter 2: Flood

Floods are normal phenomenon in Bangladesh. It usually occurs during the monsoon season.
In 2013, the country experienced normal flooding incidents in July and September. On the onset of monsoon in July, a wider part of north Bengal and part of central region along the river Brahmaputra were affected. Furthermore, the north-western part of the country was flooded; although the area affected by flood was high, the duration was relatively low. In the northeastern part, on the contrary, flood intensity was short to moderate while moderate flooding occurred for short duration in the central region. In the southwestern part of the country, particularly in Satkhira and Khulna districts, floods were prolonged due to poor drainage conditions, especially in Kobodak Haribhanga and Shibsa river catchment areas. At Jhikorgacha of the Kobodak River, the water flow was above the danger level for consecutive 120 days (Annual Flood Report 2013, FFWC, Page VI) ; 9 people were killed and about 28,000 families were affected.

Chapter 3: Cyclone and Storm Surge

Cyclone and storm-surges are common annual events during the pre-monsoon and retreating monsoon periods along the coastal belt of Bangladesh. In 2013, the number of such coastal cyclonic events were quite few compared to previous years. The cyclone MAHASEN made landfall on 16th May as a pre-monsoon type cyclonic event. The cyclone affected 8 coastal districts that including Chittagong, Bhola, Barguna, Pirojpur, Noakhali, Patuakhali, Satkhira and Laxmipur; 386, 221 people 251 unions of 42 upazilas of these 8 districts were affected by the cyclone. The devastating consequences of the cyclone included death of 17 people and 102 injuries; also,14,828 houses were fully and 44,182 were partly damaged.

Chapter 4: Tornados and Nor’-Wester

A total number of 5 Tornado incidents were reported in the year 2013. These were Brahmanbaria Tornado on 22nd March, Natore and Noagoan Tornadoes on 1st April, Jessore Tornado on 25th May and Gopalganj Tornado on10th June. Among these, the Brahmanbaria Tornado was particularly catastrophic in nature; it passed through 6 unions of 2 upazilas of Brahmanbaria District. More than 15 villages were affected by the super Tornado, and a total of 34 people were killed and 388 were injured. Although the Natore Tornado had no death toll, 479 households were heavily and 809 households were partially affected. At Noagoan, 2 people died and 26 were injured. A total of 340 households were heavily and 3830 households were partially affected.

Chapter 5: Building Collapse

In recent years, incidents of building collapse have increased significantly throughout the country.
A total of 7 buildings collapsed during 2013 killing 1135 people4 . However, the collapse of Raza Plaza on April 24, 2013 was the most tragic industrial accident in the history of Bangladesh; it killed 1135 people, leaving 2,500 people injured. Immediately after the incident, a rescue operation was initiated under the guidance of Bangladesh Army in association with Bangladesh Navy, Fire Service, BGB and Police. In addition, many volunteers took part in the rescue activities. One of the important aspects of the rescue operation was the stimulus participation of volunteers of different age and groups. Around 1,000 volunteer from Dhaka, Keraniganj and Narayanganj took part in the rescue operation.

Chapter 6: Cold Wave

Cold wave coupled the country during the first week of January, affecting more than 20 districts including Panchagarh, Thakurgaon, Dinajpur, Nilphamary, Lalmonirhat, Rangpur, Kurigram,
Gaibandha, Bogra, Joypurhat, Naogaon, Nawabganj, Rajshahi, Natore, Sirajganj, Pabna and Mymensing in the north, Moulvibazar in the east and few districts in the south namely Kushtia,
Jessore, Faridpur and Madaripur. More than 50% of populations living in those districts were affected and 80 people were killed, many of them were children. During the cold wave of 2013,the temperature of Saidpur dropped down to 3 degrees Celsius, the lowest records in Bangladesh since 1968.

Chapter 7: River Bank Erosion

Out of 489 upazilas of Bangladesh, 94 upazilas were affected by river erosion in 2013, of which 35 were severe in nature. Some important erosion affected areas includes Sirajgong, Aricha,
Mawa, Chandpur and Rangpur, Dhanut upazila of Bogradistrict; also, 13 unions of river side upazilas in Kurigram district, Chilmariupazila, Bhuapur of Tangail district, Mirzapur upazila,
Chauholi upazila, Sirajgong hard point, Daulatpur upazila of Manikgang, Biyani Bazar, Chadpur,
Sonargoan upazila, Madanipur upazila, Goalando upazila, Pangsha upazila , Daulatpur upazila of Kushtia, Dumuria and Koira upazila of Khulna were affected.

Chapter 8: Fire

Fire is one of the notable human induced disasters in Bangladesh. Every year, hundreds of people die and many are injured due to fire accidents. In 2013, a total number of 8868 fire incidents took place throughout the country and most of the them occurred in Dhaka and Chittagong.
Secondary data from newspapers shows that in 2013 the number of death occurred due to fire hazard were 65 and 191 people were injured.

Chapter 9: Earthquake and Tsunami

Due to its close proximity to tectonically active plate boundaries, Bangladesh is prone to earthquake. The country has experienced numerous large earthquakes in the past 200 years. In 2013, BMD has recorded 16 earthquake tremors with a magnitude ranging from 3.3 to 5.9 RS in and around Bangladesh border areas. The earthquake of January 9, 2013 had a magnitude of 5.9.RS and was felt throughout the country. The epicenter was 495km from Dhaka city and was located near Bangladesh-Myanmar border area. There was no report of any casualties or damages. However, there was tsunami warning or tsunami effects along the coastal belt of Bangladesh in 2013.

Chapter 10: Other Disaster

Besides the above-mentioned hazards, other significant disasters in Bangladesh are arsenic contamination, salinity intrusion, drought, water logging and landslides. The southwestern coastal belt of Bangladesh is suffering from salinity intrusion and water logging for ages. There is also the case of drought in northwestern part. Arsenic contamination of ground water is also a cause of prolonged suffering for most part of the country. However, there was only one incident of land slide in 2013 at Lalkhan Bazar, Chittagong Cityon 28th July. In total 2 women were killed in the incident.

Chapter 11: Conclusion

Bangladesh faced a number of disasters in 2013, among which 3 events were catastrophic in nature. The Cyclone Mahasen hit 8 coastal districts; however prompt effective and collaborative initiatives by government and other concern organizations and stakeholders restricted the loss and damage to a minimum level. The Tornado of Brahmanbaria was also addressed by the Government utmost effort . The incident of Rana Plaza was a challenge as such scale of building collapse was new to the country. Nevertheless the voluntarism to rescue the victims gave Bangladesh another legendary success of coping and fighting with disasters.