Kuensel Reporters

The extremely severe cyclonic storm, Amphan, made its landfall by 7pm yesterday but no major damages were reported in Bhutan.

The cyclone is expected to cross West Bengal coast Digha and Hatiya Islands, Bangladesh and to the Sundarbans. It is likely to move North-Northeast.

The National Centre for Hydrology and Meteorology (NCHM) yesterday said during the next 48 hours (May 21-22), moderate rainfall is likely over northern, western and central parts; and moderate to heavy rainfall across southern and eastern parts of the country. Thunderstorms and gusty winds are likely over isolated parts of the country during the same period.

Dzongdags said residents have been informed of the risks through the local government officials and that emergency respond teams including desuups, medical teams, police and local leaders were all on standby.

By 8pm yesterday, eight households from Pelrithang Toed in Gelephu gewog were evacuated to Pelrithang School. The people who came to the centre were families with children and elderly. Their houses are located close to river that usually floods during monsoon.

Naku and his neighbours decided to move to the centre for the night thinking that it would be difficult for them to get to a safer place at night if a mishap occurs.

“The riverbed close to us are piled with debris lately. It has become riskier day by day,” he said. It is important that we cooperate and follow the official instructions for our own safety.”

Naku added his family and the neighbours experience similar situation during monsoon.

“A protection wall alongside the river basin would enhance our security. Several plans were made in the past but none became reality.”

There are over 30 households in Pelrithang Toed.

Both Haa and Paro dzongkhags received light to moderate rainfall the whole day yesterday. As it is the paddy transplantation season in Paro, farmers took advantage of the rain to ready their fields for transplantation.

Some farmers were seen in the field with power tillers and raincoats, while a few farmers in Haa were transplanting chilies.

For Haa, Dzongdag Kinzang Dorji said that the focus was on Sombaykha drungkhag as it lies in Southern part of Bhutan which is at higher risk as per the NCHM notifications.

  For two days, the dzongkhag disaster respond teams spearheaded by dzongdag will study the situation and act accordingly. There is no panic among the people so far. They are positive that the cyclone won’t affect the dzongkhag.

The weather in the upper regions of Chukha was gloomy the whole day yesterday. Although it rained in few places, it didn’t last long.

Chukha dzongdag Minjur Dorji said there was not a single report of damages from any places.

Phuentsholing thrompon Uttar Kumar Rai said all thromde tshogpas have been informed and alerted. As a safety measure, thromde yesterday evacuated 69 individuals from its labour camp at the Toorsa-Omchhu confluence to safer grounds.

At Pekharzing area, an excavator has also been kept ready in case roads are damaged and blocked. Excavation machineries have also been placed at Omchhu-Toorsa confluence. RSTA has also readied buses in case of a disaster or emergency.

No damages were reported from Samtse yesterday. It drizzled in many parts of the dzongkhag but no heavy rainfall and windstorm was reported.

Dophuchen drungpa Karma Jurme said they have asked the people near the river and landslides prone areas to shift to safer places. These risk areas were already identified and people have shifted.

In case of emergency in the coming days, schools have also been identified as evacuation centres in the gewogs.

There was no change in Wangdue, Punakha and Gasa, The Glacier Lake Outburst Flood station in Wandgue also monitored the river level. As of 6pm yesterday it recorded 4.6mm rainfall. This, according to officials, was normal as the dzongkhag witness 15mm rainfall during monsoon.

Punakha dzongkhag following a meeting with desuups, police, dzongkhag officials and the local government officials has prepared for any emergency. A dzongkhag official said that the Dzongkhag Emergency Operation Centre, which was activated a few weeks ago due to Covid-19 would take charge in reporting and responding to activities if there were any.

“If need be, people residing near the river would move to the higher areas, which are already identified.”

Tsirang and Dagana received light to moderate rainfall since yesterday afternoon.  However, Tsirang dzongkhag experienced heavy downpour towards the evening with strong winds in its southern gewogs. No major destructions were reported in the district.

The disaster teams, led by respective gups including desuups, police personnel, civil servants and local leaders have been ensuring all precautions in the respective gewogs and has been closely monitoring all the prone areas in the localities since 10am, yesterday.

Several activities were planned to immediately secure the safety of vulnerable people and livestock as well as to evacuate those at risks to safe grounds.

In Dagana and Tsirang, tshogpas visited households to advise on exercising vigilance and avoid unnecessary travels.

Tsirang dzongdag, Pema has been constantly keeping in touch with the NCHM to update and share the status and movement of the cyclone among emergency respond teams in the district.

Municipal workers were also clearing debris along roadside drains to pave passage for rainwater and prevent it from blocking the roads.

The officials said that they would continue with same preparedness for the following two days or more, if needed.

In Mongar, the roof of a single-storied house suffered a minor damage in Chali gewog due to windstorm yesterday afternoon. Gewog officials and neighbours helped restore it.

Internet network fluctuated from both the internet service providers (ISP). A Bhutan Telecom official said that the cyclone had affected both their international internet links. “One of the links is operated by AirTel and it is trying to restore the connection within three hours but the efforts are hampered by the cyclone,” the official said.

As of last evening, TashiCell had no problem.