Vol. 5 Num 577 Mon. January 09, 2006  
Front Page

Fog blanket wrecks life
15 int'l flights disrupted; mercury drops; sky to remain overcast today

An all-enveloping dense fog in the chilly early hours yesterday disrupted road and river communications across the country and forced flight operations at the Zia International Airport (ZIA) to be suspended for hours.

As the sun remained invisible until noon in most of the places, motor vehicles had to move with their fog lights on. Our Bogra correspondent reports: Two passenger buses collided head-on in thick fog at Mohipur of Sherpur upazila yesterday, leaving 10 people killed and 20 others injured.

Sources in the flight information centre at ZIA said arrivals and departures of 15 international and four domestic flights of different airlines were delayed due to poor visibility between 3:00am and 11:00am.

The met office warned the situation would remain the same today and might cause difficulties for the people bound for home on the occasion of Eid-ul-Azha.

"A blanket of fog entering the country through the north would be there today as well," said Akram Hossain, director of the met office. The weathermen forecast a spell of cold wave in the middle of the month.

The met office recorded the lowest temperature yesterday at 10.3 degrees Celsius in Jessore while it was 12.6 degrees in the capital.

The freezing temperatures caused huge problems for road communications across the country particularly in the places where the buses and other vehicles have to cross the rivers by ferry.

Our Manikganj correspondent reports: Fog disrupted the ferry and launch services for seven hours early yesterday at Paturia-Daulatdia. Several hundred buses and trucks were stranded on either side of the river.

Our Pabna correspondent reports: Hundreds of buses and trucks were at the Kazirhat ferry ghat.

Sources working in Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authorities (BIWTA) said some 500 water vessels were stuck in a long queue at different jetties, causing immense sufferings to the people.

Our Barisal correspondent adds: Some 50 watercraft carrying more than one lakh passengers from the capital were stranded in Meghna and its tributaries near Chandpur, beginning from 2:00am yesterday. They reached their destinations after delaying for up to eight hours.

In northern districts, foggy conditions prevailing for three consecutive days made life miserable, our Rangpur correspondent reports.

Thousands of poor people have been subjected to abject misery with the onset of extreme cold weather. The day labourers in the rural areas seem to be the worst affected by the cold wave-like situation.

People living along the Teesta, Bhrammaputra, and Dharla rivers did not go out of their houses for work since the cold wave hit the region.

Azahar Ali, a rickhsaw-puller at Kagzipara of Gangachara upazila, said he could not go to work in last two days.

"Me and my family members do not have warm clothes. It's hard to buy food for them let alone clothes," he added.

Marzia Khatun of Boro Rupai of the same upazila told The Daily Star that they would have had to starve for several days had they bought warm clothes for three daughters and two sons.

Meanwhile, Civil Surgeon of Rangpur Tomsil Uddin denied that anyone had died in cold diarrhoea in the district but said several hundred people have been down with pneumonia, bronchitis, cold diarrhoea and asthma during last three days' cold weather.

"It's not a cold wave yet as the temperature has not dropped below 10 degrees Celsius. But people are feeling cold as difference between the highest and lowest temperatures has reduced," said Akram Hossain.

With scanty clothing, street urchin Saleha sleeps out in the open at Paltan Maidan in the city yesterday amid cold weather. PHOTO: Shawkat Jamil