I realise that the government has hardly any safety arrangements for tourists during natural disasters in coastal areas
It was 9:32 am on Thursday when the Keari Cruise ferry loaded with passengers started for Saint Martin's island from Cox's Bazar. Local warning signal number one had been hoisted then because of the approaching cyclonic storm Bulbul.
When the ferry reached the island at 12.30 pm, the signal was changed to danger level. On Thursday night, the warning signal was raised to number three, and all boats left the island leaving the tourists stranded there.
Abul Kalam Azad, a tourist who was stranded on the island with his family and friends, told The Business Standard, "We requested the ship's crew to take us with them from the island, but they refused because the warning signal was already up."
Like Azad, around 1,200 tourists are stranded on Saint Martin's Island because ferry services to and from the island had been suspended after danger signal number 10 was hoisted.
"We knew about the warning signal when we started, but the ship's crew assured us there was nothing to worry about because signal number one is usual in coastal areas," Azad added.
Azad further said, "The weather deteriorated fast after we reached the island, and it started raining. The water was blue when we landed, but the colour changed completely by the afternoon because of the big waves."
It rained intermittently from the afternoon, and the tourists became alarmed by the heavy gusts of wind. The sea beach became empty as soon as the danger warnings were announced.
"We were staying in a tin-shed building near the beach, and the boarders panicked when the waves began to rise. When the waves started coming close to the building, we shifted to a nearby two-storied hotel this (Saturday) afternoon", Azad said.
"We got shelter there because we knew the local chairman who also happens to own the hotel. But the other boarders are still stranded in the tin-shed building." he said.
There are no government arrangements for the security of tourists except for the announcement about the danger signal, he noted.
"I am very scared for my two-year-old baby and my wife. I have never seen such severe weather before," he said.
"We hear a lot in the media about government safety measures in coastal areas during disaster periods, but the reality is quite different," he added.
"This is the first time I am facing such a situation. I realise that the government has hardly any safety arrangements for tourists during natural disasters in coastal areas," Azad exclaimed.