Dhaka, Bangladesh
Hoist Danger Signal No 7

Hoist Danger Signal No 7

Cyclone Bulbul begins sweeping coast, tidal surge likely

News Report Rainstorm whipped by a "very severe" cyclone codenamed 'Bulbul' began sweeping Bangladesh's southern coast by Friday evening, prompting government agencies to evacuate coastal people lest the storm should trigger tidal surge. As the tropical storm kept closing in on the coastal belt with greater fury, the meteorologists advised seaports and maritime areas to heighten the previous cautionary signals, up to the danger-signal 7 for "most vulnerable areas". Officials said West Bengal could also bear the brunt of the cyclonic storm, and the authorities in the neighbouring Indian state declared 'orange alert'. India's west just escaped a disaster as cyclone 'Maha' fizzled out into the Arabian Sea as a "depression" without making a landfall in Gujarat, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said Thursday. A latest Met office forecast says five-to-seven-foot-high storm surge could inundate the low-lying areas of Bangladesh's coastal belt under the influence of the very severe cyclonic storm "bulbul" and the moon phase. The low-lying areas of the coastal districts, including Chattogram, Noakhali, Laxmipur, Feni, Chandpur, Barguna, Bhola, Patuakhali, Barishal, Pirojpur, Jhalakati, Bagherhat, Khulna and Satkhira and their offshore islands and chars "are likely to be inundated by storm surge of 5-7 feet in height above normal astronomical tide", said Abdul Hamid, a meteorologist of Bangladesh Meteorological Department in the evening. The cyclone is anticipated to hit Bangladesh this evening. According to the special weather bulletin of the met office, the very severe cyclonic storm "Bulbul" over west-central Bay and adjoining east-central bay moved northwards, intensified further and lay over northwest bay and the adjoining west-central bay. It was centred at 6:00pm Friday around 620 km Southwest of Chattogram port, 585 km southwest of Cox's Bazar port, 495 km southwest of Mongla port and 490 km southwest of Payra port. "It is likely to intensify further and move towards north or northeasterly direction and may cross West Bengal-Khulna coast (near Sundarbans) by tomorrow (Saturday) evening," said the bulletin. Under its peripheral influence gusty or squally wind may affect the maritime ports, North Bay and coastal areas of Bangladesh from early this morning. Maximum sustained wind speed within 74 kms of the very severe cyclone centre is about 120 kph, rising to 140 kph in gusts or squalls. "Sea will remain very high" near the very severe cyclone centre. Maritime ports of Mongla and Payra have been advised to lower local warning signal no four but instead hoist danger-signal 7 (seven). Coastal districts of Bhola, Barguna, Patuakhali, Barishal, Pirojpur, Jhalakati, Bagherhat, Khulna, Satkhira and their offshore Islands and chars will come under danger-signal seven. Maritime port of Chattogram has been advised to lower local warning signal no four but instead hoist danger signal number six. Coastal districts of Chattogram, Noakhali, Laxmipur, Feni, Chandpur and their offshore islands and chars will come under danger- signal six (6). The maritime port of Cox's Bazar has been advised to keep hoisted local warning-signal 4 (four). All fishing boats and trawlers over North Bay have been advised to remain in shelter until further notice. Meanwhile, incision drizzling since Friday afternoon disrupted normal life in the capital, Dhaka and other interior parts of the country. Amirul Azad, an official of Khulna Met Office, said: "Cyclone Bulbul was 665 kilometers off Mongla port at 6am on Friday and it may hit first Odisha and West Bengal in India and then enter Bangladesh territory by Saturday evening." Meanwhile, Azizul Haque Joarder, Khulna district Relief and Rehabilitation officer, said an emergency meeting was convened for 4pm for taking measures for tackling the oncoming calamity. A total 338 cyclone shelters were kept ready while hundreds of volunteers were ready in Dacope and Koyra upazilas to face any situation, he added. Deputy Commissioner of Bhola Mohammad Masud Alam Siddique in an emergency meeting informed that 668 shelter centres, eight control rooms, 39 Mujib Kellas were ready in the district while 92 medical teams and 13,000 volunteers ready to face possible disaster. "Sufficient dry foods were preserved for people," the DC said, adding that the district administration has cancelled the weekly holiday of the officials. Deputy Commissioner of Satkhira Md Badiuzzaman said 137 shelter centers were prepared for tackling the situation while the volunteers were asking people of Shyamnagar, Ashashuni and Kaliganj upazilas to take shelter in safe areas. The district administration called an emergency disaster-preparedness meeting at 7pm Friday to brace with necessary preparation. Bagerhat Deputy Commissioner Mamunur Rashid said the district administration has decided to suspend the traditional 'Rash Mela' festival in Dublar Char in the Sundarbans for safety reasons. Ten control rooms were opened in nine upazilas and in district headquarters while 234 cyclone shelters were kept ready where 2.26 lakh people of the coastal area can stay safely. "Medical teams, Fire Brigade, Red Crescent members and volunteers are ready to tackle any situation," the DC added. (Inputs taken from UNB, agencies, media reports)

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