DHAKA, – Bangladesh authorities today ordered a massive evacuation campaign as the met office overnight issued its highest warning signal saying a “very severe cyclonic storm is set to hit the southern coastlines this evening”.
Disaster ministry officials said thousands of people already moved to safe shelters as the evacuation campaign was underway particularly in nine
southwestern coastal districts which were likely to swallow the maximum brunt of the cyclone codenamed “Bulbul”.
“By now 4 lakh people were evacuated and we plan to shift 18 lakh people to cyclone shelters by the evening in 14 vulnerable districts,” disaster
management ministry senior secretary Md Shah Kamal told newsmen.
He said army troops and members of the coast guards were called out to supplement the cyclone preparedness initiatives, alongside Red Crescent
volunteers and government agencies including police.
“We are launching evacuation drive in 14 districts — Bhola, Barguna, Patuakhali, Barishal, Pirojpur, Jhalakathi, Bagherhat, Khulna, Satkhira,
Chattogram, Noakhali, Feni, Laxmipur and Chandpur and their offshore islands and chars,” Kamal said.
“In most vulnerable areas including chars (small island), we are trying to help people move out along with their valuables and cattle as well,” he said.
Kamal said the evacuees were being provided dry food while “we have enough stock of relief materials for them”. As many as 1,600 medical teams have remained ready to provide healthcare facilities to cyclone victims, he added.
The latest met office bulletin issued at the midday today said that severe cyclonic storm Bulbul was 280 kilometers southwest of Bangladesh’s
southwestern Mongla Port and 315 km southwest of Payra Port while it was visibly moving in a north/northeasterly direction.
It said maximum sustained wind speed within 74 kms of the cyclone centre was about 130 kph which was rising to 150 kph in gusts/squalls.
“The maritime ports of Mongla and Payra have been advised to keep hoisted great danger signal no. ten (in a scale of 10),” the bulletin read.
The met office said 10 southwestern coastal districts and their offshore islands and shoals would come under the purview of the “great danger signal
The met office meanwhile also elevated the warning signal for southeastern Chattagram asking the port authorities there hoist “great danger signal no. nine (in the scale of 10)”.
It said the five southeastern districts would come under the purview of the great danger signal no. 9 as the cyclone was likely to keep marks of its
rage on their coastlines and adjacent offshore islands.
“Under the influence of the very severe cyclonic storm ‘Bulbul’ and the (ongoing) moon phase, 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,” the bulletin said.
Bangladesh authorizes earlier ordered a temporary ban on movements of ferries and boats in internal river routes alongside all fishing boats and
trawlers over northern part of the Bay of Bengal, where the storm originated initially in the form of low pressure.
State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Enamur Rahman told a news briefing in Dhaka that “adequate measures” were taken to tackle the
storm expecting it to cause little damage to human lives. He, however, feared the standing crops to be largely affected by the tidal surges and wind.
Rahman said some 56,000 volunteers were ready to provide help, particularly to evacuate people to safe shelters before the cyclone made the
landfall while the local administrations were equipped with packs of dry food for the temporarily displaced people.
The government, meanwhile, cancelled the leave of the officials and employees in the coastal districts alongside the students’ school final