Cyclone Mocha slammed into southeastern Bangladesh coastlines shortly after midday today making its way through the Naf River that divided Bangladesh and Myanmar, uprooting trees and tearing the roofs off buildings and forcing half a million people to take refuge in safe shelters.
"The cyclone made its landfall but its main brunt largely spared Bangladesh as it turned to eastwards at the last moments and headed towards northern Myanmar coast," Bangladesh's met office director Azizur Rahmann said.
But officials and residents in Bangladesh's southeastern coastlines said the severe storm scattered flimsy homes and uprooted trees while meteorologists predicted the remnants of the storm to cause flooding in low-lying areas.
According to the Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD), Cox's Bazar district was supposed to be affected severely by Cyclone Mocha but the costal district witnessed very little destruction as the strong part of the cyclone hit the Myanmar.
"Costal districts, particularly Cox's Bazar have been saved from severe wrath of cyclone Mocha... we predicted the cyclone may hit the Cox's Bazar and its coastal areas and offshore islands would be devastated," AKM Nazmul Haque told BSS.
Meanwhile, Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Mohammad Quamruzzaman of Teknaf, which visibly bears the worst brunt of the cyclone, said the wind was blowing at a speed of over 200 kilometres per hour in Teknaf and its southernmost part Shahpori Dip along the Bay of Bengal.
"The weather is frightening because of the very high velocity of wind but we are yet to see the much feared massive tidal surges," he said.
Saint Martin's island's union parishad Chairman Mujibur Rahman told BSS that the offshore coral island also witnessed heavy storms which appeared to have exceeded 200 kilometres per hour while out of its 10,000 permanent population, some 7,000 took shelters in hotels, motels alongside the regular cyclone shelters.
Both of them said they received no immediate report of any casualty but the storm uprooted many trees and damaged houses and other structures in Teknaf and St. Martins.
The weather officials said the Naf River witnessed high-tide that began at 11 am and continued until 5 PM, contrary to the low-tide in Cox's Bazar, which started at 9 am and continued till 3 pm.
The officials and residents in Cox's Bazar said cyclone Mocha has brought with it heavy rain and winds of up to 195kph (120mph) and feared it could trigger dangerous flooding on land along the Bay of Bengal.
The storm surges up to four metres swamped villages in low lying areas but tensions grew about amid speculations that the storm could ravage the world's largest refugee camp in Teknaf where over a million Rohingyas took makeshift refugees to evade persecution in their homeland in Myanmar.
"Many makeshift shanties in the Rohingya camp were leveled and trees uprooted by the severe storm," the government appointed relief and repatriation official Mizanur Rahman told BSS.
Bangladesh authorities earlier moved to safety some half a million people while many of the Rohingyas living in risky foothills were relocated amid fears of mudslides.
The met office issued its latest special cyclone bulletin at 3 PM saying the "the coast crossing very severe cyclonic storm mocha (pronunciation Mokha) moved north-northeastwards and weakened slightly".
"The centre of the system has crossed the Cox's Bazar-north Myanmar coast near sittwe (Myanmar) at 03 pm today (14 may 2023) and lies over the land area of Myanmar (lat. 20.5on, lon 92.8oe)."
The bulletin said by the evening today the whole cyclone would completely cross the coast by and "weaken gradually".
But under the influence of the system, northeast bay and adjoining area will experience maximum sustained wind speed of 120 kph rising to 130 kph in Gusts or squalls while maritime ports of Cox's Bazar was asked to keep hoisted great danger signal no 10.
The met office directed the Cox's Bazar, Chattogram and Payra seaports to keep hoist great danger signal no. 10 adding the signals would cover adjoining areas and offshore islands or chars.
Mongla port is to keep hoisted local warning signal number 4.
The coastal districts of Chattogram, Feni, Noakhali, Laxmipur, Chandpur, Barishal, Bhola, Patuakhali, Jhalokathi, Pirojpur, Borguna and their offshore islands and chars will come under great danger signal no. eight (r) eight.
River ports of Cox's Bazar, Chattogram, Feni, Noakhall, Laxmipur, Chandpur, Barishal, Bhola, Patuakhali, Jhalokathi, Pirojpur and Borguna were asked to keep hoisted riverine great danger signal no. 4 in a scale of four or highest for inland waters.
"Chattogram and their offshore islands and chars are likely to be inundated by the wind driven surge height of 5 to 7 feet above normal astronomical tide under the peripheral effect of very severe cyclone and steep pressure gradient," the bulletin said.
The low lying areas of coastal Feni, Noakhali, Laxmipur, Chandpur, Bhola and their offshore islands and chars are likely to be inundated by surges with heights from 3 feet to 5 feet above normal astronomical tide.
According to the bulletin, the Mocha was likely to cause heavy rain falls in Chattogram, Sylhet and Barishal ranging from 44 millimeter to 289 millimeter (mm).
"Due to very heavy rainfall landslide may occur at places over the hilly regions of Cox's Bazar, Bandarban, Rangamati, Khagrachari snd Chattogram," the met office warned.
It also asked all fishing boats and trawlers over North Bay to remain in shelter till further notice.
Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha