Bangladesh orders evacuation in coastal districts as Cyclone Mora intensifies

Cyclone Mora is churning toward Bangladesh's coasts, shutting the country's main port and long-haul river transports from Dhaka to the southern region.

Published : 29 May 2017, 12:04 PM
Updated : 29 May 2017, 05:22 PM

Weather forecasters issued danger signal No. 10 for the maritime ports in Chittagong and Cox's Bazar and danger signal No. 8 for Mongla and Payra.

The very warm waters of the Bay of Bengal caused a tropical low to develop into a depression on Sunday morning. By afternoon it had been upgraded to a deep depression, which turned into a cyclonic storm by early Monday morning.

Mora is expected to make landfall on the Chittagong-Cox's Bazar coast early Tuesday, according to Bangladesh Meteorological Department.

The cyclone at 3pm was centred about 345km south-southwest of Cox's Bazar, 425km of Chittagong port, 490km south-southeast of Mongla port and 415km south-southeast of Payra port.

The latest weather forecast says the sea will remain very rough and has advised all fishing boats, trawlers over the north Bay of Bengal and deep-sea to remain in shelter.

It said the cyclone may cause inundation of low-lying areas of Cox’s Bazar, Chittagong, Noakhali, Laxmipur, Feni, Chandpur, Borguna, Bhola, Patuakhali, Barisal, Pirojpur, Jhalakathi, Bagerhat, Khulna, Satkhira and their offshore islands as a four-to-five feet high sea surge was expected during the storm.

The disaster management ministry has ordered local authorities to evacuate people in coastal areas to safety.

“The local bodies have been asked to make arrangements to take people to shelters. They will all be moved to safety by evening,” said the ministry’s Additional Secretary Golam Mostafa.

But he could not say how many will be moved as part of the evacuation.

The country's main seaport has suspended container handling, Chittagong Port Authority Secretary Omar Faruk told on Monday.

Shipments already unloaded from ships are being delivered, he said.

The port authorities have also raised its own alert to level 3. Port workers were securing heavy machinery and its own vessels.

Flights, however, operated out of the port city's Shah Amanat International Airport.

“The situation still doesn’t call for the suspension of operations. But we’ll take all necessary precautions,” its in-charge Wing Commander Reazul Kabir told at 1pm.

Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority or BIWTA has suspended operations of all river transports and issued cautionary signal No. 2 for all river ports.

In the 12 hours after the deep depression turned into Cyclone Mora, it has moved 100km towards the Bangladesh coast. It travelled another 45km towards the coast in three hours from 6am on Monday.

The cyclone, which is expected to hit the Bangladesh coast late Monday or early Tuesday, may disrupt lives and property in northeastern India and Myanmar, reports AccuWeather.

Mora may turn into a severe cyclonic storm -- equivalent to a strong tropical storm or Category 1 hurricane -- by Monday afternoon, says the weather media.

It said the strength of the damaging winds will be dependent on the strength of the storm at landfall, but wind gusts past 125km per hour appear likely late Monday and Tuesday.

“Rainfall over 150mm and flooding will be major concerns for Bangladesh," Meteorologist Jason Nicholls said in AccuWeather's report.

"The main threat area for landfall continues to be centred around Bangladesh with landfall expected late on Monday night or Tuesday."

Bangladesh Meteorologist Bazlur Rashid told that they had issued cautionary signal No. 2 as soon as the low turned into a cyclone. It was raised to local cautionary signal No. 4 at 6am on Monday and upgraded to a danger signal at 9am.