PATUAKHALI: Bangladeshi wea­­t­her experts said on Tuesday that a deadly cyclone that carved a swath of destruction was one of the quickest-forming and longest-lasting they’d experienced, blaming climate change for the shift.

Cyclone Remal, which made landfall in low-lying Bangladesh and neighbouring India on Sunday evening with fierce gales and crashing waves, left at least 38 people dead, destroyed thousands of homes, smashed seawalls and flooded cities across the two countries.

The toll includes 12 workers who died on Tuesday when a quarry collapsed in India’s Mizoram state, which the government attributed to torrential rains as the storm progressed inland.

“In terms of its land duration, it is one of the longest in the country’s history,” Azizur Rahman, director of the state-run Bangladesh Meteorological Department told AFP, adding it had battered the country for more than 36 hours.

In contrast, Cyclone Aila, which hammered Bangladesh in 2009, lasted around 34 hours.

“I’ve seen many storms in my life but nothing like this cyclone,” said Asma Khatun, an 80-year-old widow who lives with her son, a fisherman in Bangladesh’s hard-hit coastal town of Patuakhali. “Before, the storm came and went away... now it doesn’t seem to go away.

Meteorologist Rahman said the cyclone formed more quickly than almost all the cyclones they have monitored in recent decades. “Of course, quick cyclone formation and the long duration of cyclones are due to the impact of climate change,” Rahman said.

“It took three days for it to turn into a severe cyclone from low pressure in the Bay of Bengal... I’ve never seen a cyclone formed from a low pressure in such a quick time,” he said.

“Usually, a cyclone is formed in the south and southwest of the Bay of Bengal, then takes seven to eight days to turn into a severe cyclone.”

Published in Dawn, May 29th, 2024

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