No cyclone or safe shelter can be found in eight coastal islands under Patuakhali’s Rangabali upazila, leaving some 15,000 people vulnerable to the natural calamity.
The islands are — Char Kashem, Char Kalagachia, Char Kankuni, Char Maishor, Char Najir, Char Tojammel, Char Kawkhali and Char Lata.
The islands have no concrete structures either, meaning there is no place to seek refuge from cyclones, locals said.
“We have no safe shelter. We have to depend on Allah whenever any natural disaster hits our area”, said Jannat Begum, 25, a resident of the remote Char Kasem.
“I was pregnant when Sidr had hit our area in 2007. At the time, our entire home was flooded. I saved myself by climbing a tree,” said Jannat, who is a mother of two children.
Md Mashfaqur Rahman, the local upazila nirbahi officer (UNO), said he had already informed the higher authorities to build safe shelters in the areas.
Asked about preparation for cyclonic storm “Bulbul”, he claimed he would evacuate people by speedboats and trawlers from the island.
Acting Rangabali Upazila Project Implementation Officer (PIO) Tapon Kumar Ghose said there was no educational institution on these chars, adding that if the government approved one, then they would take steps to build a school-cum-cyclone shelter.
Upazila Primary Education Officer (acting) Md Sagir Hossain said they had sent a proposal to the higher authorities to set up schools in those chars, but they did not get any response.
Meanwhile, some 1,000 tourists remain stranded in Saint Martin’s Island for the second consecutive day due to inclement weather.
“On behalf of the local administration, we have requested all the tourists to stay in their hotel rooms,” said Noor Ahmad, chairman of the union parishad.
Besides, different types of cautionary messages were conveyed to the tourists through loud speakers, said Md Mansur Miah, in-charge of Saint Martin’s police outpost.