Bangladeshi authorities on Saturday ordered more than 4,00,000 people to flee coastal villages and islands as Cyclone Bulbul headed for the Bay of Bengal coast. The eye of the storm, packing winds of up to 120 km per hour, was expected to hit land around the Bangladesh-India frontier late on Saturday. A storm surge up to two metres (seven feet) high was predicted along the coast, Bangladesh’s Meteorological Department said.
Bangladesh troops were sent to villages to help with the evacuation. About 55,000 volunteers were also going door-to-door to warn residents. Minister for disaster management Enamur Rahman said the evacuation of 400,000 people would be completed by Saturday evening. “We’ve already evacuated some 391,000 people,” he said.
1,500 tourists stranded
About 1,500 tourists were stranded on the southern island of Saint Martin after boat services were suspended due to bad weather.
Bangladesh’s two biggest ports, Mongla and Chittagong, were closed because of the storm and flights into Chittagong airport have also been halted.
Bulbul was expected to hit the coast at the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest, which straddles Bangladesh and part of eastern India and is home to endangered species including the Bengal tiger.