A powerful storm hit parts of northern Bangladesh on Monday, May 1, 2017, killing at least 12 people and leaving many injured, authorities reported. The storm left a trail of destruction but also came as a blessing for millions after days of heat wave scorched the country.
At least 4 people were killed in Rajshahi district and three in Chapainawabganj, where storm uprooted hundreds of trees, flattened hundreds of tin-roofed and mud-built houses and damaged roads and railways.
In addition, authorities said, five people were killed when a boat capsized in the Padma river in Dorgapara area. The Daily Star reported one of the passengers managed to swim ashore.
Each year from March to mid-May, the country endures severe storms and tornadoes as an introduction to a four-month wet monsoon season.
According to German Watch's Global Climate Risk Index (CRI), Bangladesh (population ~163 million) is the most vulnerable nation in the world to global climate change. This is based on the analysis of impacts of major climate events that occurred around the world in the 20-year period since 1990.
The reasons are complex and extremely intertwined. Located at the bottom of the mighty GBM river system (comprising the Ganges, the Brahmaputra, and the Meghna), Bangladesh is watered by a total of 57 trans-boundary rivers coming down to it: 54 from neighboring India and 3 from Myanmar.
The country, which has no control of the water flow and volume, drains to the Bay of Bengal over 90% of the total run-off generated annually. Coupled with the high level of widespread poverty and increasing population density, limited adaptive capacity and poorly funded, ineffective local governance have made the region one of the most adversely affected on the planet.
There are an estimated one thousand people in each square kilometer, with the national population increasing by 2 million people each year. Almost half the population is in poverty. Hence these people do not have the ability to respond to a natural disaster as the government cannot help them.
Featured image: NASA Terra/MODIS, acquired May 1, 2017