Dhaka, Oct 24 (EFE).- Bangladesh Monday began evacuating thousands of people from coastal areas as the country braced for the arrival of powerful tropical cyclone Sitrang.
The storm, carrying gusts of up to 88 km per hour, was situated around 525 km southwest of the port of Mongla at 6 am on Monday.
Meteorologist Abdul Mannan told EFE that the cyclone was expected to make landfall in Bangladesh between midnight past Monday and early hours on Tuesday near Barishal and Chittagong coast.
“At the moment, the diameter of the cyclone is about 400 km, so vast areas are feared to be affected by the cyclone,” he said.
Ahmadul Haque, head of Bangladesh’s Cyclone Preparedness Programme, told EFE that the evacuation started Sunday night in remote areas.
“We have started evacuating people from all risky areas of our 13 coast districts this morning. People living in remote areas have all been evacuated. We do not have the number yet because the process is ongoing,” he said.
Haque said people are being taken to 4,100 regular cyclone shelters and hundreds of other irregular shelters like local schools and colleges by 76,000 volunteers.
Bangladesh Red Crescent Society, the Coast Guard, Bangladesh Navy, and the police have also joined the evacuation process.
Under the peripheral effect of the cyclone, North Bay and adjoining coastal areas of Bangladesh are likely to experience gusty and squally winds at a speed of 50-60 kmph in addition to heavy or very heavy rain, said a weather bulletin.
Authorities have asked all boats and trawlers to remain in shelter until further notice and the weather office urged the ports of Mongla and Payra to hoist the highest local danger signal of seven, forecasting a storm surge of 5–8 feet above normal astronomical tide.
Sheikh Mizanur Rashid, a resident of Bamna in the southwest Barguna district, said they have already started to feel the effect of the storm with rain battering the area since Sunday night.
“It has been raining since last night and the wind is also heavy. It looks like we are already facing the storm. There is no electricity here for hours. People have also started moving to shelters,” said Rashid.
One of the areas under the pathway of the cyclone is Bhasan Char Island in the Bay of Bengal, where some 30,000 Rohingya refugees have been relocated in recent months.
Authorities on the island said they have made every effort to save the refugees from the effects of the cyclone.
“We have made special preparations for the cyclone. Here, in each of the 120 blocks, we have separate cyclone shelters, where people can be relocated within half an hour. Each shelter features 192 rooms, where 500 people can be accommodated,” said Sujit Kumar Chanda, camp in-charge of Bhasan Char.
Bangladesh is prone to cyclones due to its geographic location, and they occur mostly in the period between April and May, and October-November.
The last major cyclone to hit the country was Amphan, which killed nearly 100 people in Bangladesh and neighboring India in May 2020. EFE