India and Bangladesh brace for year’s first cyclone

  • Bangladesh moved 60,000 vulnerable people into shelters due to cyclone Remal

SATKHIRA, BANGLADESH: Bangladesh and India braced on Sunday for cyclone Remal, the first of the year, as the storm with wind speeds of up to 120 kmh (75 mph) is set to make landfall overnight, India’s weather department said.

The Bangladesh Weather Office raised its storm danger signal to 10, the highest level, for two ports and nine coastal districts, announcing warnings over loudspeakers and starting to evacuate people from coastal areas.

“Nearly 60,000 people have been moved to shelters since morning,” Mijanur Rahman, chief of Bangladesh’s disaster management team, told Reuters.

The low-lying coasts of Bangladesh and India, two South Asian neighbours, have experienced frequent severe storms in recent years. Cyclone Yaas in 2021 for instance left more than 50,000 people homeless and killed at least one.

Bangladesh has set up nearly 8,000 cyclone shelters and mobilised 78,000 volunteers, the state minister for disaster management and relief Mohibbur Rahman told Reuters.

India has deployed its disaster relief force in the eastern state of West Bengal. Flights have been suspended at the major metropolitan city of Kolkata.

Parts of West Bengal have started experiencing bouts of moderate rainfall, and the government has cancelled leave for employees in essential services, a civic body official said.

The Indian navy also said it had kept ships, aircraft, divers and medical supplies on standby for deployment if required.

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“The landfall of cyclone Remal will take place between 11 PM and 1 AM,” Somnath Dutta, head of the weather forecast section in regional meteorological centre in Kolkata, told Reuters.

Pictures on social media platform X showed the disaster management team alerting tourists at a beach in West Bengal.

A number of trains travelling through areas that fall in the ambit of the cyclonic storm were also cancelled, another official said.

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