Evacuation underway as cyclone Mora heading towards Bangladesh

DHAKA, May 29, 2017 (BSS) - Bangladesh today ordered an intensified evacuation campaign in southeastern coastlines as the Met office predicted an advancing cyclone to hit the shoreline by early tomorrow, issuing the highest level of warning signal in a scale of 10.

Maritime ports of Chittagong and Cox's Bazar have been advised to hoist great danger signal number 10 while Mongla and Payra ports to hoist great danger signal number eight as the cyclone 'Mora' is heading towards Bangladesh.

Low-lying areas in Cox's Bazar have gone under water with an unusually high tide pounding the shore.

Under the influence of the cyclonic storm, the entire Chittagong started to experience light rainfall and low-lying areas of the coastal upazila of districts are likely to be inundated by storm surge of four-five feet height above normal astronomical tide.

Coastal district administrations have already started evacuation of the people to cyclone shelter.

"Local administrations and voluntary agencies in 19 southeastern districts have been asking people to move to cyclone shelters using megaphones since midday," an official at the disaster management and relief ministry told BSS.

Director of disaster management Abu Syed Mohammad Hashim said medical and rescue teams with personnel from various agencies including armed forces were kept ready for immediate movement with succors for victims, scrapping leaves of all doctors in the coastal districts.

His comments came as officials in southeastern port city of Chittagong said orders were issued to immediately suspend operations of the country's main port amidst advancing storm soon after the met office issued "danger signal no 10," in a scale of 10 for the cyclone, codenamed "Mora".

Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) also suspended operation of ferries or motor launches in internal routes and asked those in the coastlines and in the middle of river routes to take shelter immediately.

Bangladesh Metrological Department said the cyclone brewed in the Bay of Bengal was moving in a northerly direction and cross Chittagong and the coasts of southeastern beach town of Cox's Bazar.

"We are following the cyclone's path and updating information sitting with our stakeholders," said Hashim.

The latest Met office bulletin said the cyclonic storm over north bay and adjoining east central bay intensified further "into a severe cyclonic storm" and was centred at 06 pm today about 385 kms south of Chittagong Port, 305 kms south of Cox's Bazar port, 450 kms south-southeast of southwestern Mongla sea port and 370 kms south-southeast of Payra port.

"It is likely to intensify further, move in a northerly direction and may cross Chittagong - Cox's Bazar coast by morning of 30 may 2017," it read.

According to the bulletin maximum sustained wind speed within 62 kms of the cyclone centre is about 89 kph rising to 117 kph in gusts/squalls heightening waves in the sea while it feared the tidal surges to lash out the coastlines inundate low lying areas of some 16 districts under 4 to 5 feet height above normal astronomical tide.

"The offshore islands and chars are likely to experience wind speed up to 89-117 kph in gusts/ squalls with heavy to very heavy falls during the passage of the severe cyclonic storm," the bulletin warned.

Our Chittagong Office reports: The district administration has started evacuation of the people of the most vulnerable six coastal upazilas of the district to safer places and nearby cyclone shelters since this evening after the Met office has issued "Great Danger Signal" no. 10 at Chittagong port .

There are 479 cyclone shelters in the district, which can accommodate nearly 4.45 lakh people. Apart from this, there are 458 government offices, schools which are opened to take shelter if needed,

Deputy Commissioner, Chittagong Zillur Rahman Chowdhury told BSS tonight.

The DC said nearly 30,000 people have already taken shelter in the centres and uncountable people also took refuge to their close relatives and police are exerting pressures on those who are reluctant to go to safer places.

Earlier, leaves of all officials , employees, doctors and nurses have been cancelled and kept standby to face any eventuality of the Mora , said Zillur, also chairman of the district's disaster management committee.

One hundred medical teams with 5000 health workers, adequate number of volunteers of the Red Crescent society have been kept ready and district administration is monitoring round the clock in this regard.

Cox's Bazar correspondent reports: 538 cyclone centers of the district and 534 other educational institutions and government and non government high-rise buildings have been kept prepared to use as shelter centers.

Earlier in the morning, district administration held a meeting on cyclone preparedness with deputy commissioner Md Ali Hossain in the chair.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)