Roundup: Bangladesh braces for extremely dangerous tropical cyclone Mocha

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DHAKA, May 13 (Xinhua) -- Bangladesh on Saturday raised its storm danger signal to the highest level of 10 as the extremely dangerous cyclone Mocha is heading toward its coastlines.

The cyclone, packing winds of up to 170-190 mph, is set to slam parts of southeastern Bangladesh and western Myanmar, bringing with it destructive winds and a potentially devastating storm surge.

A special bulletin of the Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD) said Saturday afternoon that the cyclone was now staying at 695 km south of Bangladesh's Mongla port in southern Khulna region and 705 km south-southwest of Chattogram seaport in southeastern Bangladesh.

Bazlur Rahman, a senior meteorologist, said weather forecasters were asked to hoist danger signal No. 10 for Cox's Bazar, a seaside city in southeastern Bangladesh, and signal No. 8 for Payra seaport in southern Bangladesh.

Cox's Bazar, which is now home to nearly 1 million Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, and their offshore islands also come under danger signal 10.

According to the BMD, some coastal areas of Chattogram and Cox's Bazar district, some 300 km southeast of the capital Dhaka, may face a wind-driven storm surge of eight feet to 12 feet above the normal level under the peripheral effect of the storm.

The storm surge in other districts with the great danger signal is likely to be five feet to seven feet above the normal level.

Announcements were being made in loudspeakers in the coastal districts and red flags were raised in disaster prone areas.

BMD Director Md Azizur Rahman had earlier said that the cyclone could cross the southeastern coast of Bangladesh and the northern coast of Myanmar by May 14.

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

Apart from this, the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority suspended operations of vessels on all waterways across the country due to inclement weather caused by the cyclone.

The authorities of Chattogram and Cox's Bazar airports have suspended flight operations for 36 hours.

TV reports said southeastern coastal districts have been experiencing gusty winds as the cyclone was approaching.

TV footage showed widespread flooding in coastal districts of Chattogram and other districts Saturday morning, where tens of thousands of people have reportedly been evacuated from their homes.

The cyclone is expected to intensify further before cutting its path through the Bangladeshi coast by Sunday evening, the meteorological office said in the bulletin.

Bangladeshi State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Enamur Rahman told reporters that officials have taken adequate preparations to evacuate people and livestock in the coastal areas.

He added Mocha is expected to strike between Saturday night and Sunday Morning, possibly hitting Cox's Bazar.

Parts of Bangladesh are experiencing drizzle and gusty wind as an impact of the advancing cyclone which is likely to be the strongest landfalling cyclone like Aila and Sidr.

Cyclone Aila, which hit Bangladesh's southwestern coast in May 2009, left at least 179 people dead and over 3 million affected, with huge economic loss.

In 2007, Cyclone Sidr hit the country's southwestern coastal belt, leaving more than 4,000 people dead or missing. Enditem

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