6 killed as Cyclone Mora batters Bangladesh (Third Lead)

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Dhaka, May 30 (IANS) At least six persons were killed in Bangladesh after Cyclone Mora wreaked havoc in the country’s south-eastern coast on Tuesday leaving behind a trail of damaged houses and trees.

Authorities were battling to evacuate more than half a million people from the coastal areas. Four persons were killed after they were hit by falling trees in Cox’s Bazar district and Rangamati town, bdnews24 reported.

One child died in Bhola district while moving into a cyclone shelter while a woman died of a heart attack during the storm.

The powerful storm made landfall around 6 a.m. in Kutubdia, near the fishing port of Cox’s Bazar, the Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD) said.

Cyclone Mora was likely to move further in a northerly direction, the BMD said.

Road Transport Minister Obaidul Quader told the media in Dhaka that around 20,000 houses were damaged.

As many as 300,000 people were taken to shelters in over 10 districts most vulnerable to the cyclone, Additional Secretary Golam Mostafa, a spokesman for the Disaster Management Ministry’s control room, was quoted as saying by bdnews.

“The people were moved out to at least 400 cyclone shelters or safer places like schools and government offices in the coastal areas,” a Disaster Management Ministry spokesman said.

Significant damage was reported in refugee camps housing Rohingya Muslims from neighbouring Myanmar, BBC reported.

The districts at risk were Cox’s Bazar, Chittagong, Noakhali, Lakshmipur, Feni, Chandpur, Barguna, Patuakhali, Bhola, Barisal and Pirojpur.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was monitoring the situation from Vienna, where she has gone to attend a conference on atomic energy, said Hasina’s Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim.

“The Prime Minister is maintaining round-the-clock communication with Dhaka on the storm situation. She has ordered all-out preparations to tackle the storm,” he said.

The Met office said that the cyclone had already started to lose strength, but strong winds with heavy rain and thundershowers in Cox’s Bazar and Chittagong were likely to continue.

Fishing boats and trawlers were advised to remain in shelters. All flights in and out of Chittagong’s Shah Amanat International Airport were also cancelled.

A total of 88 medical units, 6,010 local volunteers and 15,000 Red Crescent volunteers were on alert, while about 50,000 more volunteers were on standby in 19 coastal districts, said Abu Syed Mohammad Hashim, director of the Disaster Management Department.

The Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief has set up 24-hour control rooms.

About 18 million people live in 19 coastal districts, with 10 of them being in high-risk areas. The country’s two main seaports in Chittagong and Mongla stopped operations, and river transport across Bangladesh was also suspended.

–IANS

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