Over 2 million evacuated as the severe cyclonic storm approaches; Army, Navy deployed
The very severe cyclonic storm Bulbul over the northwest bay and adjoining areas has weakened into a severe cyclonic storm and started crossing the West Bengal-Khulna coast near the Sundarbans.
A special bulletin of the Met office around 9pm on Saturday said the cyclone moved northwestwards at a speed of about 8kmph and is lying over the northwest bay and adjoining coastal areas of Gangetic West Bengal and southwestern part of Bangladesh.
It is likely to move in a northeasterly direction further, weaken gradually and may complete crossing the West Bengal-Khulna coast by Saturday midnight.
Maximum sustained wind speed within 64km of the severe cyclone centre is about 100kmph, rising to 120kmph in gusts or squalls, the BMD said.
The cyclone might cross Bangladesh coast by Saturday midnight, the BMD Met office said.
The maritime ports of Mongla and Payra have been advised to keep hoisted great danger signal number 10. Coastal districts of Bhola, Barguna, Patuakhali, Barisal, Pirojpur, Jhalokathi, Bagerhat, Khulna, Satkhira, and their offshore islands and chars will also come under great danger signal number 10.
Maritime port of Chittagong has been advised to keep hoisted great danger signal number 9. Coastal districts of Chittagong, Noakhali, Lakshmipur, Feni, Chandpur, and their offshore islands and chars will come under great danger signal number 9.
The maritime port of Cox’s Bazar has been advised to keep hoisted local warning signal number four.
All fishing boats and trawlers over North Bay have been advised to remain in shelter till further notice.
2 dead as Cyclone Bulbul lashes Indian coasts
The severe cyclonic storm Bulbul entered the mainland of the Indian state of West Bengal around 8:30pm, and was moving towards the Sundarbans, reports Regional Meteorological Centre Kolkata.
Two people were killed - one by an uprooted tree in Kolkata and another by a wall that collapsed under the force of the winds in Odisha state, reports AFP.
With a wind speed of 120kmph, Bulbul made the entry through the Sagardwip island and the Fraserganj of North 24 Parganas, said Kolkata Met office.
It predicted that the cyclone is likely to weaken gradually and move northeast wards and cross West Bengal-Bangladesh coasts between Sagar Islands (West Bengal) and Khepupara (Patuakhali, Bangladesh) across Sundarbans Delta by midnight.
The severe cyclonic storm may have a maximum sustained wind speed of 110-120kmph gusting to 135kmph, it added.
All out preparation taken
More than 2 million people have been taken to the shelters in 14 coastal districts ahead of very severe cyclonic storm Bulbul.
The government has made extensive preparations to tackle the effects of the cyclone, State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Ministry Md Enamur Rahman said.
Seven districts have been flagged as vulnerable to the effects of the storm and cyclone shelters have been set up in these districts for evacuation. These are Khulna, Satkhira, Bagerhat, Barguna, Patuakhali, Pirojpur and Bhola.
All district deputy commissioner and Upazila Nirbahi Officers (UNO) have been instructed to provide necessary transportation, including boats, trawlers, to bring people to the shelter from remote areas within 2pm, the state minister said on Saturday.
As much as 55,515 volunteers worked in 3,684 units of 350 unions of the 13 vulnerable districts to aware people as well as inspire them to take shelters, he said.
Control rooms have also been set up in each district, he added.
BMD Meteorologist Omar Faruk, said: “We are assuming that Bulbul may hit the Sundarbanbs and its adjoining areas after its landfall in West Bengal,” he said.
He feared that the situation may worsen further during the peak hour of the moon phase.
Bulbul’s wind speed is predicted to 100-120kmph in gusts or squalls with heavy to very heavy shower forecast during the passage of the storm.
The districts in danger are Khulna, Satkhira, Chittagong, Noakhali, Lakshmipur, Feni, Chandpur, Barguna, Patuakhali, Barisal, Bhola, Pirozpur, Jhalokathi, Bagerhat and their offshore islands and chars (dried-up riverbeds).
Flight operations suspended at Chittagong airport
Flight operations at Shah Amanat International Airport in Chittagong have been declared shut for 14 hours, from 4pm on Saturday to 6am on Sunday, confirmed the manager of the airport Wing Commander ABM Sarwar-E-Zaman.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (Caab) decided to suspend the flight operations at the airport on Sunday as a precautionary measure, Sarwar said.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh Coast Guard has opened its hotlines to assist people during and after the cyclone: Barisal division - 01766690621, Khulna division - 01766690401, Chittagong division - 01766690171, and additional - 01766690049.