Bangladesh evacuates 100,000 as Cyclone Bulbul approaches

Officials said thousands of people have already been moved to safe shelters, particularly from 10 southwestern coastal districts, which are likely to face maximum brunt of Cyclone 'Bulbul'.

Published: 09th November 2019 03:33 PM  |   Last Updated: 09th November 2019 03:33 PM   |  A+A-

Villagers wait in a shelter after the ferry service to Sagar Island was suspended due to the approaching Cyclone Bulbul in Kakdwip in West Bengal state on November 9, 2019. Cyclone Bulbul, packing a maximum wind speed of 120 kilometres per hour (75 miles), is on course to make landfall near the Sundarbans, the world's largest mangrove forest, which straddles Bangladesh and part of eastern India.

Villagers wait in a shelter after the ferry service to Sagar Island was suspended due to the approaching Cyclone Bulbul in Kakdwip in West Bengal state on November 9, 2019. Cyclone Bulbul, packing a maximum wind speed of 120 kilometres per hour (75 miles), is on course to make landfall near the Sundarbans, the world's largest mangrove forest, which straddles Bangladesh and part of eastern India. (Photo | AFP)

By AFP

DHAKA: Bangladesh authorities have evacuated around 100,000 people from the country's low-lying coastal villages and islands with Cyclone Bulbul set to slam into the country later on Saturday, officials said.

The Meteorological Department has asked local authorities and two ports to raise their highest alert, as the cyclone is expected to unleash a storm surge as high as seven feet (two metres) in coastal districts.

Bulbul, packing a maximum wind speed of 120 kilometres per hour (75 miles), is on course to make landfall near the Sundarbans, the world's largest mangrove forest, which straddles Bangladesh and part of eastern India and is home to the endangered Bengal tigers.

ALSO READ: Bulbul intensifies into 'severe cyclonic storm', to make landfall in Bengal by Saturday night

The cyclone is expected to hit the Bangladesh coast at around 8 pm (1400 GMT), disaster management secretary Shah Kamal told AFP, adding there are plans to evacuate some 1.5 million people before that.

Authorities have suspended a nationwide school test, cancelled the holidays of officials posted in coastal districts and called off a traditional fair that draws tens of thousands of people in the Sundarbans.

Operations at the country's two major ports -- Mongla and Chittagong -- have been suspended, Kamal said.

Some 55,000 volunteers have been mobilised to go door to door and alert people about the storm.

Bangladesh's low-lying coast, home to 30 million people, is regularly battered by powerful cyclones that leave a trail of devastation in their wake.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed over the last few decades in cyclones, whose frequency and intensity have increased.

Bangladesh has, however, improved its preparedness in recent years, cutting the number casualties since Cyclone Sidr killed more than 3,000 people in 2007.

In May this year, Fani became the most powerful storm to hit the country in five years, but just over a dozen people were killed.

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