Published: Thursday, May 16, 2013

Mahasen weakens

Crossing Noakhali-Chittagong coast at Sitakunda

The Cox's Bazar sea beach turns almost empty as authorities advised people to keep off the sea with the Cyclone Mahasen approaching. Anurup Kanti Das

The Cox’s Bazar sea beach turns almost empty as authorities advised people to keep off the sea with the Cyclone Mahasen approaching. Anurup Kanti Das

Cyclone Mahasen has weakened slightly by giving precipitation and was crossing Noakhali-Chittagong coast at Sitakunda Thursday afternoon, according to Cox’s Bazar Met office.

The slow-paced cyclonic storm was moving northeasterly direction towards Indian state of Tripura and crossing the land through Noakhali-Sitakunda route around 2:00pm, reported our correspondent quoting AKM Nazmul Haque, deputy meteorologist of the Met office.

If the cyclone continues moving this way without changing path, it will take three to five hours to cross Bangladesh coastline, the meteorologist added.

While contacted, Ruhul Amin, deputy commissioner of Cox’s Bazar, however said they did not lower the danger signal No. 7 from the port as they have yet to receive a direction in this regard.

Slight rainfall was observed since Thursday morning in Chittagong city but it stopped after noon.

After lashing Patuakhali, Barguna and Bhola, Cyclone Mahasen is advancing north-northwestwards to hit Chittagong-Cox’s Bazar coast possibly in the afternoon Thursday, said officials at BMD.

Shah Alam, director of Bangladesh Meteorological Department, said the tidal surge did not hit Khepupara with heavy pressure as Mahasen hit the area during the low tide.

District headquarters’ telecommunications with remote offshore island Rangabali and Charkajal island of Galachipa upzila through mobile phone or wireless has been snapped, Aumitav Sarkar, deputy commissioner of Patuakhali told The Daily Star over phone.

“But we have not received any report of death yet in the tropical cyclone in the district,” he said. “However some makeshift rural houses have been destroyed,” he added.

There are 1, 10, 000 inhabitants in the hard-to-reach Rangabali upzila, 70 kms off the district headquarters, said Sarkar.

The district administration, as part of precautions, evacuated some 1.10 lakh people from all across the district and took them to 360 shelter centres.

Of the total population of 15 lakhs in the district, over 2.5 lakhs live in the coastal areas exposed to natural disaster.

Rest of the coastal people were asked to take shelter at schools, office buildings and other safe places on high ground, said the DC.

Sarkar said that he had talked to the union parishad chairmen of Rangabali and Galachipa at 11:30am and was assured that the offshore inhabitants are still safe there.    

Mahasen is likely to move northeasterly direction further and might take three to five hours to complete crossing Chittagong-Noakhali coast near Meghna estuary, Met office said in the 11:00am bulletin.

The cyclone, which developed into a cyclonic storm from an area of low pressure over the southern Bay of Bengal in early May, advanced to the Bangladesh shoreline at 100kph, sources at Kalapara Radar Station told The Daily Star.

A BMD bulletin, released at 11:10am today, said maximum sustained wind speed within 54km of the storm centre is about 62kph rising to 90kph in gusts or squalls.

The sea will remain very rough near the storm centre, Shah Alam warned, urging people not to rush in beach as the areas can go under water anytime.

The authorities have raised the danger level to seven, on a scale of 1 to 11, for Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar ports.

 

The track of Cyclone Mahasen. Courtesy: Bangladesh Meteorological Department

The track of Cyclone Mahasen. Courtesy: Bangladesh Meteorological Department

Coastal districts of Cox’s Bazar, Chittagong, Noakhali, Laxmipur, Feni, Chandpur, Bhola, Barguna, Patuakhali, Barisal and their offshore islands and chars (shoals) will come under danger signal number seven.

Meantime, maritime port of Mongla has been advised to keep hoisted danger signal number five.

Pirojpur, Jhalkati, Bagerhat, Khulna and Satkhira coastal districts and their offshore islands and chars will come under the danger signal.

Storm surge of 8-10 feet height above normal astronomical tide may inundate the low-lying areas of the coastal districts of Cox’s Bazar, Chittagong, Noakhali, Laxmipur, Feni, Chandpur, Barguna, Bhola, Patuakhali, Barisal, Pirojpur, Jhalkati, Bagerhat, Khulna, Satkhira and their offshore islands and chars.

According to the BMD bulletin, Cox’s Bazar, Chittagong, Noakhali, Laxmipur, Feni, Chandpur, Borguna, Patuakhali, Barisal, Bhola, Pirojpur, and their offshore islands and chars are likely to experience wind speed up to 90-100kph in gusts or squalls with heavy to very falls during the passage of the storm.

Meantime, Jhalkati, Bagerhat, Khulna, Satkhira and their offshore islands and chars are likely to experience wind speed up to 80-90kph in such gusts or squalls with heavy to very falls during the passage of the storm.

The BMD also warned of landslide at places over the hilly regions of Chittagong division due to very heavy rainfall.

All fishing boats, trawlers and marine vessels over North Bay have been advised to remain in shelter till further notice.

Meanwhile, nearly 200 people from three adjacent localities in Sadar upazila of Cox’s Bazar who were evacuated on Wednesday returned to their houses Thursday morning.

The people of Paschim Kutubdiapara, Somitipara and Najirartek also complained about mismanagement in food distributing and lack of space in the shelter centres.

On queries, Md Ruhul Amin, deputy commissioner (DC) of Cox’s Bazar, told The Daily Star that local administration could not concentrate on food issues as the manpower was busy evacuating the shoreline people.