The country braces for a large scale natural disaster ahead of the arrival of cyclone Mora with authorities ordering evacuations, the closure of schools, ports and airports and thousands of emergency services personnel on alert in coastal districts.
Bangladesh Meteorological Department raised danger signal 10 from 6 for maritime ports in Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar forecasting that Mora might make landfall in Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar this morning.
Intensified from a low that generated in North Bay during the past 24 hours, cyclone Mora was lying about 305km of Chittagong port, 230km of Cox’s Bazar, 380km of Mongla port and 300km of Payra port, according a bulletin by Met Office issued on 12:00am on Tuesday.
Thousands of people were taken to cyclone shelters on Monday as cyclone Mora threatened to hit coastal areas with torrential rain and a wind speed up to 120 kilometres per hour.
As many as 6,000 establishments, including 3,800 centres dedicated for providing shelters to people during cyclones, were prepared in 16 coastal districts, including Cox’s Bazar, Chittagong, Noakhali, Lakshmipur, Feni, Chandpur, Borguna and Bhola.
Volunteer Habib at a cyclone shelter in Saint Martin’s Island, 90km southeast of Cox’s Bazar, told New Age over phone at about 1:00am that about 200 people took shelter in the centre.
‘All of them were passing the night in anxiety with the approaching storm,’ he said, adding that many people still opted to stay home.
Drizzling and unusual calmness were prevailing in the island, he added.
Same situation was also prevailing in Cox’s Bazar that was 230km away the cyclone Mora at 12:00am.
Cox’s Bazar deputy commissioner Ali Hossain said that there was hardly any major change in the weather condition throughout the day in the resort town with the approaching storm.
He said that air was still warm despite drizzling since evening.
He said that they had taken all-out preparation to tackle the cyclone after the Met Office raised danger signal 10 from 6 for maritime ports in Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar.
Activities at airports and sea ports in Chittagong were suspended while the movement of inland vessels was cancelled across the county on Monday as part of precautionary measures.
Officials of the cyclone preparedness programme told New Age at 9.30pm that Chittagong, Cos’x Bazar, Noakhali, Lakshmipur, Feni and Chandpur were likely to be affected mostly by Mora which already caused heavy rain in Sri Lanka and thunderstorms in eastern India killing almost 200 people.
Until 10:00pm, three lakh people were taken to cyclone shelters, said the programme director Ahmadul Haq.
He feared that the number could be double by midnight.
Intensifying into a severe cyclone from a low that generated in North Bay during the past 24 hours, Mora was lying about 360km of Chittagong port, 280km of Cox’s Bazar, 430km of Mongla port and 350km of Payra port, according a bulletin by Met Office issued on 9:10pm.
Met officials said that centre speed of the cyclone was varying between 90km and 117km and the cyclone was advancing towards Chittagong at a speed of 15 km per hour on average.
Met official Rubayat Kabir said that the storm was likely to strengthen further during the landfall as it was already recognised as the category 3 cyclone.
Cox’s Bazar district fishing owners’ association suspected that about a 100 fishing boats could not return as the warning by Met Office appeared to be inconsistent.
Association president Mostaque Ahmed said that over 1,500 fishermen were still in the sea as Met Office raised the signal 10 unexpectedly in quick succession.
The Met Office officials said that they did not waste any time to issue the signal.
Chittagong deputy commissioner Jillur Rahman Chowdhury said that people started to arrive at cyclone shelters at Sandwip, Anwara and Chittagong city at 8:00pm.
‘In an hour, the number of people seeking shelter rose from 500 to 5,000 in a single cyclone shelter at Sandwip,’ Jillur told New Age over the phone.
Cyclone preparedness programme officials said that 55,000 volunteers joined government employees in 16 districts along the coast to ensure that people did not risk their life ignoring the warning.
They said that about 6,000 establishments, including 3,800 centres dedicated for providing shelters to people during cyclones, were prepared, with adequate supply of food, to keep people safe.
Chittagong Port Authority secretary Omar Faruk said that loading and unloading at Jetties and outer anchorage at Chittagong port were suspended from 11:00am until further notice.
Cox’s Bazar deputy commissioner Ali Hossen said, ‘538 cyclone shelters were opened in the district and as many as 88 medical teams were ready to act during emergency.’
Our Chittagong correspondent reported that all the 479 cyclone shelters in the city were prepared for sheltering people who were advised to take shelter before the dusk.
The cyclone shelters have the capacity of sheltering 4,45,880 people. Control rooms were opened at district and upazila levels. Announcement through loudspeaker was going on at all upazilas of Chittagong.
Costal upazilas like Sitakunda , Mirsarai, Anwara, Banshkhali and Sandwip were categorized as the most vulnerable ones.
Chittagong district civil surgeon Azizur Rahman Siddiqi said that they formed 284 medical teams, including 16-25 teams at each upazilas, to respond to emergencies.
In Bhola, like other places across the coastal districts, members of Red Crescent Society joined hands with local volunteers to make people aware of the impending disaster, reported New Age correspondent in Bhola.
Disaster preparedness officers were monitoring the preparation for the disaster from at least seven control rooms in the district.
New Age Correspondent in Lakshmipur reported that coast guards, police, and fire service officials were aiding the volunteers in making people aware of the disaster as early as possible.
Like elsewhere in the coastal district, the administration cancelled leave of all government officers in the district until further notice.
New Age correspondent in Patuakhali reported that 351 cyclone shelters in the district were prepared to protect people from the disaster.
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