The government has already made all preparations and has taken precautionary measures to face Cyclone ‘Mahasen’, which is likely to hit the south-eastern coast of Bangladesh on Wednesday night, announced disaster management and relief minister Abul Hassan Mahmud Ali on Tuesday.
“At least 50,000 trained volunteers have been kept ready in this connection. Besides, at least 3,770 cyclone shelters have been prepared in the country to provide refuge to cyclone-affected people,” he told reporters after a meeting of the inter-ministerial disaster management coordination committee at the secretariat.
Mahmud Ali said the government has taken precautionary measures to deal with the oncoming cyclone ‘Mahasen’ and reduce possible losses of lives and properties in the 322 flood- and cyclone-prone unions under 37 upazilas in 13 coastal districts of Bangladesh.
The meteorological department is not yet certain whether the cyclone ‘Mahasen’ will hit Bangladesh. The met office is expected to confirm the storm’s movement on Wednesday night.
“Some of the dilapidated cyclone shelters will not be used to shelter the people seeking refuge. The government has instructed the authorities to keep all the primary schools in those areas ready to shelter the affected people. The schools will remain closed, if necessary,” he said.
He further said, “At least 50,000 trained volunteers have been prepared and kept on alert in this regard. Deputy commissioners (DCs), upazila nirbahi officers (UNOs), union parishad chairmen and community leaders have also been alerted. All leave of government officials of those areas has been cancelled in preparation for the emergency caused by the cyclone.”
“We have allocated 5,000 tents and 7,000 saris and lungis as emergency supplies. A total of Tk. 300,000 and 100 tonnes of food-grains has also been allocated to the coastal districts for the affected people,” the minister said.
On the question of medical assistance for the affected people, the minister said, “We have arranged a medical team for every union, two medical teams for every upazila, and five medical teams for every district. More medical teams will be kept on standby for emergency medical assistance.”
“The National Disaster Response Coordination Cell will centrally monitor the overall situation during the cyclone. Separate control rooms have also been opened at the upazila and district levels,” Mahmud Ali added.
Bangladesh meteorological department director Mohammad Shah Alam said, “We are not yet sure when and where the cyclone will strike as it is still 1,080 km away from Chittagong seaport, 1,015 km away from Cox’s Bazar seaport and 970 km away from Mongla seaport after the last cyclone bulletin in the afternoon.”
“It is now moving faster than yesterday (Monday). If the cyclone continues to move at this speed, it will take time to make landfall. However, it may change its speed more quickly as it moves towards the coast,” the met director said.
He further said: “The cyclone will not hit tonight; it may strike the coast between the Bangladesh and Myanmar borders if it moves on its present course. But if it changes its direction in a short period of time, it may either hit Chittagong or the Sundarbans area.”
“We are keenly tracking the cyclone and by tomorrow (Wednesday), we will be certain about its movement. But we are not sure when it will hit the coast. We will know definitely about its landfall point by Wednesday night,” he added.
Mahmud Ali added that the government has already hoisted precautionary signal number four for the people residing in the Chittagong and Sundarbans areas. “We are communicating with the fishermen and local community leaders and the authorities concerned at the possible strike zones of the cyclone and they are prepared to face any challenge.”
“The disaster management volunteers are sending messages to the people in those areas, asking them to be prepared with dry food and to be ready to move to the nearby cyclone shelters at any time,” he added. “The met office authorities advised the maritime ports of Chittagong, Cox’s Bazar and Mongla to hoist local warning signal number four on Monday. This will continue. We will change the signal when necessary.”
People have been asked to call the control rooms at 02-8818738, 02-9855933 and 01759114488. The fax number is 02-8819353.
-With The Independent input