DHAKA, Bangladesh — Volunteers in Bangladesh’s coastal districts were using loudspeakers to urge people to seek shelter on Saturday as the delta nation braced for an extremely severe cyclone, which is expected to slam ashore in Bangladesh and Myanmar in the next 24 hours.
Cyclone Mocha was moving toward the coasts of southeastern Bangladesh and Myanmar with wind speeds of up to 160 kilometers (100 miles) per hour and gusts up to 175 kph (110 mph), the Indian Meteorological Department said. It’s projected to make landfall on Sunday evening in an area between between Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh and Kyaukpyu in Myanmar.
Bangladesh, with more than 160 million people, has prepared more than 1,500 cyclone shelters. More than 1 million Rohingya refugees who fled persecution in Myanmar are on the cyclone’s path in sprawling camps in Cox’s Bazar, where local authorities and the United Nations were preparing for the storm’s impact.
Bangladesh, which is prone to natural disasters such as floods and cyclones, issued the highest danger signal for Cox’s Bazar district. Bangladesh Meteorological Department has warned that the cyclone may cause serious damage to lives and property in eight coastal district.
Mizanur Rahman, director general of the Department of the Disaster Management, said they asked the local authorities in 20 districts and sub-districts to make preparations. The director general said that they were especially concerned with a coral island in the Bay of Bengal called Saint Martins Island, where there were efforts underway to protect its thousands of residents.
According to the Flood Forecasting and Warning Center in Dhaka, severe flash floods could affect the coastal region.
Myanmar said in its weather bulletin that the cyclone was moving toward the coast of Rakhine state near Sittwe. It also raised its highest alert.
In May 2008, The Cyclone Nargis devastated the Irrawaddy River Delta with its storm surge. At least 138,000 people died and tens of thousands of homes and other buildings were washed away.
Roxy Mathew Koll, a climate scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology in Pune city, said cyclones in the Bay of Bengal are becoming more intense more quickly, in part because of climate change.
The state-run Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper reported on Friday that thousands of people living along the western coast of Rakhine state were evacuated.
Both Indian and Bangladeshi authorities have said that they expect heavy or very heavy rains in Andaman Islands, in parts of India’s remote northeast and in Bangladesh starting Saturday evening.
Climate scientists say cyclones can now retain their energy for many days, such as Cyclone Amphan in eastern India in 2020, which continued to travel over land as a strong cyclone and caused extensive devastation. “As long as oceans are warm and winds are favorable, cyclones will retain their intensity for a longer period,” Koll said.
Cyclones are among the most devastating natural disasters in the world, especially if they affect densely populated coastal regions in South Asia.
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