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How Cyclone Yaas melted down an entire island

The show Time/source News Laundry

Zarina Bibi and her husband wade through a 100-metre stretch of knee-deep water between a dry embankment and their destroyed hut. They rest a while at a foot-wide patch of mud at the base of a date tree, where a grey duck has made its home. Even the duck, a creature of water, seems tired of the water stretching on all sides.

In the last 72 hours, Zarina Bibi and her husband have crossed this stretch innumerable times, ever since Cyclone Yaas rendered them homeless. They live on the 26 sq km piece of land that makes up Mousuni island in Bengal’s Sundarbans, enclosed by the Ganges and the Jhinai on either side. Cyclone Yaas did not make landfall in these parts, but it still destroyed the entire island.

About 90 percent of Mousuni’s 4,000 households live in kachcha houses: bamboo frames filled with mud and plastered with cow dung, and roofed in terracotta tiles. Many of them were rebuilt after Amphan using the Rs 1.23 lakh grant under the state government’s housing scheme, which afforded them barely four concrete walls over a foundation. With the lockdown, they couldn’t earn enough to build on it.

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