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B’desh begins evacuation as Mahasen nears

Bangladesh on Wednesday launched a massive evacuation campaign as weathermen warned that cyclonic storm ‘Mahasen’ had moved further towards the coast.

‘The evacuation campaign has begun across the coastal region. The people are moving towards safety,’ director general of disaster management department Abdul Wajed told local media. The Met office had issued an overnight storm warning with an intensity of 7 on a scale of 10 for the coastline.

The Met office in a bulletin issued this afternoon said the storm moved further towards the coast while residents at coastlines said they witnessed drizzles and cloudy weather indicating the advancement of the storm. It said the maximum sustained wind speed within 54 kilometres of the storm centre is about 62 kph rising to 88 kph in gusts and squalls while the storm was located at about 815 kms southwest of Chittagong Port, 750 kms southwest of Cox’s Bazar Port and 695 kms south southwest of Mongla Port in the afternoon.

‘We, however, do not expect the storm to hit the coast before tomorrow morning but the peripheral wind of the cyclone could be felt in the coastal areas from 10 PM on Wednesday,’ Met office director Shah Alam said. The authorities earlier on Wednesday temporarily closed the country’s three seaports and airports in Chittagong, Cox’s Bazar and Mongla.

Small boats and vessels were ordered to be stationed safely in the face of the impending danger.

Households exposed to tidal surges have been prioritised for evacuation and are to be sheltered at 3,770 permanent cyclone shelters. An armed forces spokesman said alongside army troops, the navy has kept 22 ships ready and the air force their helicopters to launch evacuation operations. Bangladesh Red Crescent Society said 49,365 of its volunteers launched the evacuation campaign in 13 districts.
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