Bangladesh evacuates over 8 lakh people as cyclone Remal approaches

The cyclone is likely make the landfall before midnight

Bangladesh braces for Cyclone Remal Men salvage a reclining chair and other material as water flows on to the Kuakata beach on the coast of Bay of Bengal caused by the advancing Cyclone Remal in Barisal, Bangladesh | AP

Over 800,000 people from vulnerable areas have been evacuated to shelters on Sunday as Bangladesh prepares for severe cyclonic storm 'Remal' forecast to make landfall by midnight with a potential high tidal surge and heavy rainfall in the country's coastal districts of Satkhira and Cox's Bazar.

Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD) said Remal would make landfall between 6:00 pm and midnight.

The Met Office issued "great danger signal no 10 on a scale of 10 for southwestern greater Barisal and its shoals and great danger signal no nine for the southeastern coastlines including the port city of Chattogram.

"Under the peripheral effect of the severe cyclone and steep pressure gradient, the low-lying areas of the coastal districts...and their offshore islands and chars are likely to be inundated by a wind-driven surge of 08-12 feet height above normal astronomical tide, the BSS news agency reported, citing the latest met office bulletin.

State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Md Mohibur Rahman told a press briefing that over eight lakh people were evacuated to cyclone centres and other safer places.

"We have taken all necessary measures on an urgent basis to tackle the severe cyclonic storm...all relevant organisations have been asked to work in a coordinated manner to face the cyclone, he said.

The minister said that the authorities have launched an intensified evacuation campaign to take all vulnerable people to safety as the met office asked Payra and Mongla ports to hoist great danger signal number 10, while it issued nine for Cox's Bazar and Chattogram ports this morning.

We are hoping that we will be able to bring all vulnerable people living in 19 districts to the cyclone centres before the landfall of the cyclone, he said.

Leaves of officials of all ministries, divisions and subordinate offices have been cancelled to tackle the possible aftermath of Cyclone Remal, the Daily Star newspaper reported.

The Chattogram Port Authority has suspended all operations in the port as cyclone Remal heads towards the coast, it said.

According to the Dhaka Tribune newspaper, flight operations at the Chittagong airport have been suspended for eight hours.

National carrier Biman Bangladesh Airlines announced the suspension of its flights to Cox's Bazar for Sunday due to Cyclonic storm Remal. Besides, flights of BG395 and BG391 to Kolkata will remain suspended today and tomorrow, respectively, said Bosra Islam, general manager of the Public Relations Wing of Biman Bangladesh Airlines, local media reported.

According to a BMD special news bulletin issued at noon on Sunday, Remal was located 335 km southwest of the Chattogram maritime port, 315 km southwest of the Cox's Bazar port, 220 km south of the Mongla port and 200 km south of the Payra port.

"Wind speed is 90-120kmph within 62km of the cyclone centre, as a result of which there is a risk tidal surge of up to 12 feet along the coast, an official meteorologist said.

"A large-scale evacuation started after the Met Office issued danger signal number 10 and nine. All vulnerable people are presumed to be moved to safer places at the shortest possible time," Disaster Management Director General Mizanur Rahman was quoted as saying by BSS.

Alongside evacuation of the people, domestic animals have been taken to designated cyclone shelters, he said, adding that a total of 8,464 cyclone shelters, including Mujib Kella, have been kept ready to provide refuge to the people living in 19 coastal districts, which might be affected by the cyclone Remal.

Sufficient food has been stocked for the people living in the cyclone centres alongside the people of 19 coastal districts, Mizanur said. He said all upazila and district administrations have adequate cash to provide prompt response to the people who will be affected by the cyclone.

"We have also kept ready 1,185 medical teams to offer urgent healthcare support to the people as cyclone Rimel may hit the coastal belts of Bangladesh with massive strength," the disaster management chief said.

As cyclone Remal has turned into a severe one, it was taking more time to make landfall, he said. "We have to manage the cyclone cautiously to minimise its damage."

The coastal districts which are under cyclone threat are Khulna, Satkhira, Bagerhat, Pirojpur, Jhalakathi, Barguna, Barisal, Bhola, Patuakhali, Chittagong, Cox's Bazar, Feni, Comilla, Noakhali, Lakshmipur and Chandpur.

The Disaster Management and Relief Ministry officials said 78,000 volunteers from the Cyclone Preparedness Programme (CPP) have been kept ready to deal with 'Remal' in the coastal district.

It added some 8,600 Red Crescent volunteers and others joined a campaign asking people at risk to move to safety alongside the government officials while the district administration mobilised transport to carry them to the cyclone shelters.

This is the first cyclone in the Bay of Bengal in this pre-monsoon season and is named Remal (meaning sand in Arabic) according to a system of naming cyclones in the Indian Ocean region.


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