Six die as cold intensifies in Bangladesh

Hundreds crowd hosptials, fog disrupts communications

Staff Correspondent | Published: 23:57, Jan 18,2021 | Updated: 00:01, Jan 19,2021


Six people, including two children, died in northern Bangladesh because of cold-related diseases and circumstances while skies in many parts of the country remained covered in a thick fog since early Monday.

Between Sunday and Monday 3,226 people sought treatment at different government hospitals in Rangpur division for cold related illness while 1,356 people were also admitted.

Rangpur divisional commissioner Abdul Wahab Bhuiyan urged affluent people to join the government in providing warm clothes to the poor people in northern districts.

He said that they already distributed more than 1 lakh quilt against the demand of about nine lakh.

New Age correspondent in Lalmonirhat reported that civil surgeon offices at Lalmonirhat and Rangpur confirmed three deaths from pneumonia on Monday.

The deceased were identified as Nayeem, 2, a resident of Char Gokunda, Lalmonirhat, nine-month-old Julhash, a resident of Kaonia, Rangpur and Samiron Bewa, 63, a resident of Pirgachha, Rangpur. 

Rangpur divisional health office also confirmed two other deaths from burns suffered by two people in a fire lit to stay warm.

One of the deceased was identified as Khejmoti Begum, 46, a resident of Mohendranagar, Lalmonirhat while the other fire victim was identified as Abdus Samad, 70.

In the last two weeks seven people died in a fire lit outdoors to keep warm in the poverty ridden northern districts where the lack of warm clothes is a household problem.

Rangpur civil surgeon Hirombo Kumar said a transport worker, Rais Uddin, was killed after a truck drove into a roadside ditch in Piganj amid poor visibility.

Dense fog forced authorities to divert and delay airline flights and shut down ferry services across the Padma, keeping hundreds of vehicles with thousands of passengers stranded on either side of the river for hours.

Different parts of Bangladesh, especially northern, western and central regions, were cloaked in a thick fog throughout Monday with meteorologists warning that the fog may not lift in the next two days.

Thousands sought treatment for cold-related diseases at government hospitals across Bangladesh every day, especially in northern districts, and hundreds needed to be hospitalised.

The health emergency operation room however did not give an estimate of people already taken ill or died so far because of the cold since winter officially began in December.  

‘Dense fog may continue to cause trouble for two more days until rain comes and clear it out,’ said meteorologist Abdul Mannan.

The temperature however may further fall from Friday with a cold wave setting in over north, western and central Bangladesh, he said.

The lowest minimum temperature of 8.5C in the 24 hours until 9:00am on Monday was recorded at Tetulia with the minimum temperature in other parts remaining around 10C or a little more.

Inhabitants of the capital Dhaka also felt the chill of the winter on Sunday night and Monday morning with the minimum temperature recorded at 13C.

The temperature would remain more or less the same over the next two days, meteorologists said.

Air traffic office at Hazrat Shajalal International Airport confirmed diverting three international flights to Chattogram because of low visibility, especially after 5:00am.

The operations of domestic flights which usually begin around 7:30am were also delayed for two hours due to dense fog, said the air traffic office.

New Age correspondent in Manikganj reported that about seven hundred vehicles were stranded on either side of the Padma at Paturia and Daulatdia after the fog caused the ferry services to remain shut for 10 hours from around 12:00am.

‘The worst part of waiting at Padma river crossing is that there is no usable public toilet around here,’ said Aroj Ali, a driver, who has been stuck in traffic congestion at Paturia for seven hours until Monday afternoon.

Passengers, especially children and elderly people, shivered in cold during their nightlong wait at the Padma river crossing.

BIWTC deputy general manager Zillur Rahman said that five ferries were anchored mid-river after visibility reduced and they remained there until 10:00am.

Police have taken special measures to reduce public sufferings by allowing only passenger-carrying vehicles to cross the river while keeping goods-laden trucks in wait at Uthli.

The ferry service over the Padma between Shimulia and Bangla Bazar remained suspended for over six hours since 4:00am because of low visibility, reported New Age correspondent in Munshiganj.

Three ferries were stuck mid-river during the period and the ferry service resumed around 10:00am but was suspended again half an hour later for nearly an hour.

Both Manikganj and Munshiganj were under a thick cloak of fog throughout Monday while visibility reduced greatly as night fell.

Meteorologists warned that the temperature might fall further from Friday after the thick fog is cleared.

Cold waves in January, the 2nd month of three-month-long winter, usually get severe with temperature falling below 4C in many places.

This year, however, the temperature did not fall below 6.5C as the first cold wave in the month continued to sweep regions across Srimangal, Pabna, Dinajpur, Panchagarh and Chuadanga.

Usually three cold waves are experienced in January, said meteorologists.

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