After hovering around the Indian coast for the last two days, the first cyclone of the season in the Bay is now gaining strength and heading towards Bangladesh.
Named Roanu, the cyclone might make landfall on country's southern coast within the next 48 hours, the Met Office said yesterday evening.
The government was preparing for a massive evacuation in 18 coastal districts after the Met Office had issued a local warning signal. All the cyclone shelters in these districts have been kept ready.
“… It may hit Bangladesh coast tomorrow [Saturday],” said the duty forecasting officer (DFO) yesterday evening.
The Met Office advised four maritime ports in Chittagong, Cox's Bazar, Mongla and Payra to hoist local warning signal-4, as Roanu moved slightly towards the north-northeast.
The storm was centred about 1,365km southwest of Chittagong port; 1,335km southwest of Cox's Bazar port; 1,185km southwest of Mongla Port; and 1,215km southwest of Payra port, said a Met Office bulletin.
It is likely to intensify further and move in a north-northeast direction, the bulletin added.
All fishing boats and trawlers over the north Bay of Bengal and deep sea have been advised to remain close to the shore so that they could take shelter within a short notice.
Meanwhile, the government has taken preparations for the cyclone.
“We've issued directives asking deputy commissioners of 18 coastal districts to prepare for evacuating people to cyclone shelters and keep relief materials ready,” Disaster Management and Relief Secretary Mohammad Shah Kamal told BSS yesterday.
He said the district administrations in coastlines were also asked to mobilise nearly 60,000 volunteers trained under the Cyclone Preparedness Programme (CPP) and chart out detailed plans to face the impending disaster by holding emergency coordination meetings.
“The weekend holidays of civil servants of the 18 districts have been cancelled as well,” Kamal said, adding that the ministry also convened an inter-ministerial coordination meeting yesterday.
“The entire Bangladesh coastlines could be affected if the course of the cyclone remains unchanged, but we expect to give you a clearer picture about its eventual destination by May 21 midday,” a weather official told BSS.
Officials from several coastal districts said preparations were underway to keep the damage to a minimum, and volunteers and officials were sent out with megaphones to issue alerts.