Dhaka: Bangladesh on Wednesday ordered the evacuation of about one million people from its coastline as the cyclonic storm ‘Mahasen’ in the Bay of Bengal was poised to cross the country`s southern coast early Thursday.
The UN has described the cyclone as life-threatening for 8.2 million people in Bangladesh, Myanmar and northeast India despite the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs saying it appeared to have weakened to a category one storm, BBC reported.
The authorities in Bangladesh raised the danger level to seven out of 10 for low-lying areas around Chittagong and the coastal district of Cox`s Bazar.
According to the Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD), the storm could create a surge 2m high in coastal districts and residents were being urged to make for cyclone shelters.
Officials say evacuations in 15 coastal districts including Chittagong and Cox`s Bazaar began Wednesday shortly after the BMD raised its warning level, Xinhua reports.
The storm continued to approach Bangladesh, bringing lashing rains and strong winds to the country`s southern coast, home to millions.
In its latest special bulletin, BMD said the cyclone was centered about 755 km southwest of Chittagong seaport, 242 km southeast of capital Dhaka.
"We`ve directed authorities to launch an evacuation of people living in risky areas at the shoreline in view of the advancement of the storm," said Shahin Sultana of the National Disaster Response Coordination Center (NDRCC).
The cyclonic storm is likely to intensify further and move in a north-northeasterly direction and may cross Khepupara under Bangladesh`s Patuakhali district and Teknaf under Cox`s Baazar district`s coast near Chittagong by early Thursday, said the BMD.
It said one third districts of Bangladesh are likely to experience harsh winds up to 90-100 kph with the passage of the storm.
The ministry of disaster management and relief had earlier said some 50,000 volunteers were ready for emergency duties.
"We`re evacuating approximately 200,000 people from low-lying coastal areas," said Ruhul Ami, chief of administration in Bangladesh`s Cox`s Bazaar district.
Meteorologist Muhammad Abul Kalam Mallik told Xinhua that the cyclone, which battered Sri Lanka`s coastline and left seven people dead, will likely make landfall somewhere near the Myanmar-Bangladesh border early Thursday.
Abdul Mannan, Bangladesh`s Chittagong district administration chief, said: "In a grim situation we plan to evacuate 300,000 people. But initially by evening we`ll evacuate at least 150,000 people."
Major cities including capital Dhaka are experiencing drizzle and gusty wind as an impact of the advancing cyclone.