Dhaka: Authorities in Bangladesh put more than 50,000 volunteers on standby and readied about 5000 shelters as a strong cyclone in the Bay of Bengal is expected to hit the low-lying nation's vast southwestern and southern coast on Saturday evening.
The weather office in Dhaka issued the most severe storm signal for Cyclone Bulbul, packing maximum sustained winds of 74 kilometres per hour and gusts of up to 150 kilometres per hour.
It said the southwestern Khulna region could be worst hit. The region has the world's largest mangrove forest, the Sundarbans.
Junior Minister for Disaster Management, Enamur Rahman, said government offices suspended work in 13 coastal districts.
As the day progressed, the volunteers used loudspeakers to ask people to move to shelters in Chittagong and other regions, according to the ministry. In Cox's Bazar coastal district, local tourists were alerted to stay in hotels while a few hundred visitors were stuck on Saint Martins Island.
Authorities suspended all activities in the country's main seaports including in Chittagong, which handles almost 80% of exports and imports. All vessels and fishing boats have been asked to stop operating.
Local authorities ordered school buildings and mosques to be used as shelters in addition to dedicated cyclone shelters — raised concrete buildings built over decades.
Bangladesh, a low-lying delta nation of 160 million people, has a history of violent cyclones. But disaster preparedness programmes over past decades have upgraded the country's capacity in dealing with natural disasters, which has resulted in fewer casualties.
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Updated Date: Nov 09, 2019 15:55:57 IST