Bangladesh evacuates residents, warns ports as cyclone Bulbul nears

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Dhaka – Bangladesh has begun evacuating vulnerable residents and issued a warning to all maritime ports as a cyclone in the Bay of Bengal headed towards the country’s coast.

Cyclone Bulbul was 585 kilometres south-west of Cox’s Bazar, the southernmost district of Bangladesh, with wind speeds reaching 140 kilometres per hour, the government’s meteorological department said on Friday.

Meteorologist Abdur Rahman said the storm was likely to stregthen as it moves toward land.

It is expected to hit parts of Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal on Saturday night.

The met advised port authorities to remain alert while boats venturing into the bay for fishing were asked to return to the coast.

Heavy rain is likely to batter parts of Bangladesh due to the influence of the storm, according to the bulletin.

Low-lying areas of the coastal districts and off-shore islands may experience a tidal surge of nearly 2 meters.

Several hundred domestic tourists were stranded in an offshore island, Saint Martin, after the administration in Cox’s Bazar ordered the suspension of shipping lines to the mainland.

The local administration was asked to take care of the tourists until shipping lines resumed, according to Ashraful Afsar, a Senior District Administrator.

The disaster management ministry at an emergency meeting alerted 56,000 volunteers to evacuate residents vulnerable to the cyclone to shelter in 13 coastal districts.

The meeting headed by State Minister for Disaster Management Enamur Rahman, also ordered dispatching of dry foods to those districts to get prepared in advance to face the consequence.

A powerful cyclone devastated the south-eastern parts of Bangladesh on April 29, 1991, killing more than 100,000 and rendering  millions homeless.