Asia - Pacific

Bangladesh braces for massive Cyclone Bulbul

1.8M people living on coastline evacuated as army, doctors on standby

Md. Kamruzzaman   | 09.11.2019
Bangladesh braces for massive Cyclone Bulbul

DHAKA, Bangladesh

Bangladeshi authorities have evacuated 1.8 million people as a severe cyclone Bulbul is set to hit the southern coastlines by Saturday night.

"By now 400,000 people have been evacuated and we are working to shift a total of 1.8 million people to cyclone shelters by the evening in 14 vulnerable districts," Disaster Management Ministry's senior Secretary Shah Kamal told reporters in a briefing on Saturday afternoon.

Around 30 million people are now living in those regions.

He added thousands of people already moved to safe shelters as the evacuation campaign was underway, particularly in nine southwestern coastal districts, which were likely to bear the maximum brunt of the cyclone.

The Met Office on Saturday morning issued a red alert for two major ports of the country, Mongla and Payra, and nine coastal districts. The adjacent offshore islands have been served the same warning.

Besides, the country’s main maritime port Chattogram and five nearby districts and their offshore islands have been issued a warning.

"Maximum sustained wind speed within 74km of the very severe cyclone centre is about 130kph, rising to 150kph in gusts or squalls and will remain very high near the very severe cyclonic centre," the Met Office report said.

"The low-lying areas of the coastal districts [...] are likely to be inundated by storm surge of 5-7 feet height above normal astronomical tide," it added.

Aysha Akter, assistant director of the government's Health Emergency Operation Center and Control Room, told Anadolu Agency the danger level of the cyclone has risen to 10 from 4 in the last 24 hours.

Some 56,000 volunteers have been mobilized to provide help and the local administrations were equipped with packs of dry food for the temporarily displaced people, State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Enamur Rahman told reporters on Saturday.

A total of 1,577 medical teams and 4,516 cyclone centers have been kept ready in the coastal districts, according to a Health Directorate press release.

Army troops have been deployed in the southeastern Satkhira district for disaster management, Bangladesh army mouthpiece Inter Service Public Relations director Lt. Col. Abdullah Ibn Zaid told Anadolu Agency.

All leaves for government surgeons, nurses and other medical staff have been cancelled until further notice.

Citing the Met Office, local private TV channel Jamuna also reported the cyclone may cross over the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest located partly in Bangladesh and partly in India, and also the home to endangered Bengal tigers.

All fishing boats and trawlers have been prohibited to set sail.

The ongoing junior school level examinations have been postponed.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in a public rally Saturday noon assured that all necessary measures to face the cyclone have been taken.

The cyclone is also set to hit the Indian states of West Bengal and Odisha.

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