Bangladesh has raised the cyclone warning signal to 10 for Cox's Bazar, as Cyclone Mocha is hurtling towards the coast, according to a special bulletin by the Bangladesh Met Office.
Under the peripheral effect of the very severe cyclone and steep pressure gradient, the low-lying areas, offshore islands and Chars in Cox’s Bazar and Chattogram are likely to be inundated by a wind-driven surge up to 12 feet above normal astronomical tide, reads the notice.
The notice also advised maintaining great danger signal 8 for Chattogram while the authorities of maritime ports of Mongla and Payra have been advised to hoist great danger signal 8 from cautionary signal 4.
The districts of Feni, Noakhali, Laxmipur, Chandpur, Barishal, Bhola, Patuakhali, Jhalokathi, Pirojpur, Barguna and their offshore islands and Chars will also come under the great danger signal 8 and are likely to be inundated by a wind-driven surge up to 7 feet above normal astronomical tide.
Cyclone Mocha was 745 kilometres south-southwest of Cox’s Bazar on Saturday. It will intensify further and make landfall at Cox’s Bazar and North Myanmar coasts between 6 am and 6 pm on Sunday.
The maximum sustained wind speed within 74 km of the cyclone centre is about 160 kph, rising to 175 kph in gusts and squalls. The sea will be very rough near the cyclone centre.
Landslides may occur due to heavy rains in Chattogram, Sylhet and Barishal divisions as the effect of the cyclone storm. The effects will be felt by Saturday night, the Met Office said in its weather bulletin.
Chattogram, Sylhet and Barishal divisions are likely to experience rainfalls of as much as 89 mm due to the storm's effects.
All fishing boats and trawlers on the North Bay have been advised to dock at port or remain in shelter until further notice.
COX’S BAZAR ADMINISTRATION PREPARES FOR THE WORST
Meanwhile, the district administration in Cox’s Bazar deployed more than 10,000 volunteers and adequate numbers of vehicles to ferry vulnerable people to local cyclone shelters.
The district administration has also been updating residents in the district every hour about the cyclone situation.
The district has 576 cyclone shelters and 68 hotels and motels in Cox’s Bazar town, and its suburban areas have been declared make-shift shelters so that people can take refuge there, according to Additional Deputy Commissioner Bibhishan Kanti Das.
“So far, 5000 people and their farming animals have taken refuge in the shelters. We are running an awareness campaign and have decided to drag those to the shelters who refuse to leave their property by using members of law enforcement agencies,” he said.
The ADC said his administration had taken special preparation for the people in St Martin’s and Sonadia islands in the district.
“The remaining people in St Martin’s Island have been brought to 37 cyclone shelters there, and we have allocated five metric tonnes of rice and Tk 100,000 for the island's people for the time being. The administration also moved everyone from Sonadia Island to Moheshkhali Island for their safety.
NOT A SUPERCYCLONE
Mocha has gained strength significantly to become very powerful, but meteorologists said it is unlikely to turn into a supercyclone packing wind of over 220 kilometres per hour. They think the storm may bring wind of up to 200 kph.
Still, the damaging power of the storm should not be underestimated, said Meteorologist Md Abul Kalam Mollick.
Speaking at an emergency press conference in Dhaka on Saturday, he said Mocha would be as powerful as Sidr, which caused nearly 3,500 deaths in 2007.
“The difference will be that Sidr hit Bangladesh’s central coasts while Mocha will strike from the side.”
State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief said they had feared it would become a supercyclone, but now they believe it will remain a very severe storm.
Md Azizur Rahman, director general of Bangladesh Meteorological Department, said storms usually lose strength while making landfall. He thinks Mocha will be a severe cyclone when it hits the coasts.