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Office of the UN Resident Coordinator – Flash Update No. 1 - Bangladesh | 2019 Severe Cyclonic Storm “Fani”

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3 May 2019: According to the Bangladesh Metrological Department’s (BMD) Special Weather Bulletin No. 38, the very severe cyclonic storm “Fani” moved north-northeastwards, weakened slightly and lies over coastal Odisha and adjoining northwest bay as a very severe cyclonic storm at 03pm today (03 May 2019). It is likely to move in a north-northeasterly direction further over Odisha-west Bengal coastal area, reach Khulna and adjoining southwestern part of Bangladesh by midnight of 03 May 2019.

Under the influence of “Fani” and the new moon phase, the low-lying areas of the coastal districts of Chattogram, Noakhali, Laxmipur, Feni, Chandpur,
Borguna, Bhola, Patuakhali, Barishal, Pirozpur,
Jhalokathi, Bagherhat, Khulna, Satkhira and their offshore islands and chars, are likely to be inundated by a storm surge of four to five feet in height above normal astronomical tides. All fishing boats and trawlers in the north bay and nearby deep sea have been advised to remain in shelter until further notice.

In its Situation Report No. 2, the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS) informs that, in addition to coastal districts, the non-coastal districts of Jessore, Kustia, Rajshahi, Bogura and Natore are also likely to be affected by the cyclone, with heavy rainfall and potential flash flooding, as predicted by the meteorological service. BDRCS Units and its Cyclone Preparedness Programme have participated in District Disaster Management Committee meetings in concerned coastal and non-coastal districts.

An inter-ministerial coordination meeting chaired by the State Minister of Bangladesh’s Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief (MoDMR) was held on 2 May, with the participation of the Cabinet Secretary, the Principal Secretary, relevant secretaries from different Ministries, the Secretary General of BDRCS and the Director General of Armed Forces Division (AFD). It was decided that evacuations will start on 3 May if the risks remain unchanged.
Meanwhile, in the coastal districts, authorities are preparing for the cyclone, which is expected to be accompanied by surging tides and winds of up to 90-100 kilometres per hour.

Authorities in Bangladesh have undertaken comprehensive preparations to minimize danger to people and damage to property, in light of “Fani’s” landfall this evening. Along with preparing shelters and other post-disaster preparation, the Government has also instructed all relevant departments to remain alert to the need for further engagement in the wake of the cyclone. As “Fani” intensifies near the coast, water transport services across the country have been suspended by the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority until weather conditions improve.

In addition:

  • The Bangladesh Water Development Board is monitoring embankments in cyclone-prone districts.

  • The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is ready with its health teams and stored emergency medical supplies at the district level.

  • The Ministry of Posts, Telecommunication and Information Technology has taken urgent measures to maintain telecommunication networks across the country.

The humanitarian community has met – both in Cox’s Bazar and in Dhaka – to discuss the situation and to update internal preparedness measures, as required. All partners are ready to fully support the Government-led response.

Humanitarian cluster coordinators are liaising with:

(1) their national technical Government partners for information-sharing on preparedness measures and possible complementary support if/when needed, and;

(2) with their international/national/local partners for ensuring the pre-positioning of relief items, the sharing of standard assistance packages agreed with the Government, and for the activation of their focal points in districts likely to be affected, including districts which are not dealing frequently with such scenarios.

In Cox’s Bazar, the humanitarian community has had several meetings with local authorities, notably to prepare for possible emergency and temporary relocation of refugees to host communities’ infrastructures, with this including the evacuation of critical patients from camp hospitals to the town of Cox’s Bazar for direct trauma assistance, if required. A massive effort to install tie-down kits in camps has been undertaken. Furthermore, all humanitarian teams are on standby to respond to the impact of the cyclone, in support of the authorities.

In addition, the Needs Assessment Working Group is providing regular analytical updates to the humanitarian community. The Joint Needs Assessment process undertaken with the Department of Disaster Management will start tomorrow, 4 May.

An assessment report will be produced after 72 hours, based on conditions in the field, jointly with the Government.
Based on the assessment report and, in agreement with the authorities, possible complementary response support from the humanitarian community will be discussed and agreed upon.