Roundup: Preparations on full swing as cyclone "Amphan" approaches Bangladesh, India coastlines

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DHAKA, May 20 (Xinhua) -- Bangladesh on Wednesday raised its storm danger signal to the highest level of 10 as "very severe" cyclone "Amphan" formed in the Bay of Bengal is heading towards its coastlines.

Shamsuddin Ahmed, director at Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD), told journalists Wednesday morning that the cyclone will make its landfall in Bangladesh in the evening hours of Wednesday.

He said weather forecasters were asked to hoist danger signal No. 9 for Chattogram, a seaside city in southeast Bangladesh, and signal No. 10 for Mongla seaport in southwest Bangladesh.

The cyclone on its path will likely return to Bangladesh again on May 21 or 22 after it crosses India, he added.

"Under the influence of the very severe cyclonic storm 'Amphan' and the moon phase, the low-lying areas of the coastal districts of Chattogram and Khulna regions are likely to be inundated by storm surge of 10-15 feet height above normal astronomical tide," said the bulletin of BMD.

Maximum sustained wind speed within 85 km of the very severe cyclone center is about 200 kph, rising to 220 kph in gusts or squalls, it said.

All the fishing boats, trawlers and maritime vessels have been advised to remain in shelter till further notice.

The authorities have suspended all sorts of activities at four maritime ports including Chattogram and Cox's Bazar in southeastern Bangladesh and Payra and Mongla in the country's southern Khulna region, and inland water transportation until further notice.

Over 300,000 people have already been evacuated from their homes in coastal areas of Khulna and Chattogram and other districts at the Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's directives, said Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim.

However, an elderly person died after strong winds blew trees down onto him in Bangladesh's southern Barishal district on Tuesday night while he was going to a cyclone shelter, a senior government official told local Somoy TV on Wednesday morning.

As an impact of the advancing cyclone, cities including capital Dhaka are also experiencing drizzle and gusty wind from Tuesday night.

Bangladeshi State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Enamur Rahman said authorities were directed to complete the evacuation before midnight Tuesday.

Announcements are being made in coastal Bangladesh districts on loudspeakers asking people to evacuate their homes and move to shelters.

The cyclone which already intensified into a super cyclonic storm over the Bay of Bengal was poised to be the strongest landfalling cyclone like "Aila" and "Sidr". It is likely to cross Odisha coast in India and then move towards eastern Indian state of West Bengal and gradually towards Bangladesh's southern Khulna region by Wednesday evening.

Tornado and cyclones are common in Bangladesh, causing hundreds of deaths every year. Enditem

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