300,000 evacuated as cyclone nears Bangladesh

Posted at 5:22 PM, May 29, 2017

Nearly 300,000 people were evacuated from south coastal areas of Bangladesh Monday night as a cyclone dubbed Mora was forecast to make landfall Tuesday morning local time, authorities in Dhaka said.

"More people were still waiting for evacuation," said Abu Syed Mohammad Hashim, acting director general of the country's Disaster Management Department.

Officials have organized 3,800 relief centers ahead of the storm, which on Monday evening was churning in the Bay of Bengal and heading towards the coastline. Residents were seeking shelter in schools and other safe buildings in 17 coastal districts, Hashim said.

Mora is forecast to make landfall near the southeastern tourist city of Cox's Bazar and the seaport city of Chittagong, the Bangladesh Meteorological Agency said.

Mora is the equivalent of a strong tropical storm and will bring winds around 100 kilometers per hour as it moves onshore, said CNN meteorologist Taylor Ward. A more significant problem than the winds will be the potential for flooding -- from storm surge and heavy rainfall, he said.

"The coastline of Bangladesh is very low-lying and is prone to storm surge problems," Ward said. "Additionally, tropical cyclones in the region bring extremely heavy rainfall which often turns deadly in the densely populated areas."

The country's two main seaports in Chittagong and Mongla have suspended container handling, and river transports across Bangladesh have been suspended.

With about 700 kilometers of coast line, Bangladesh is exposed to cyclones and is often battered by deadly storms.