DHAKA, Oct. 24 (Xinhua) -- Bangladesh has begun evacuating millions of people as dangerous Cyclone Hamoon is closing on the coast of the South Asian country on Tuesday.
Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD), which Tuesday issued a special weather bulletin, said under the cyclone's influence, squally weather may affect north bay, adjoining coastal area of Bangladesh and the maritime ports.
"It is likely to move north-northeastwards and may cross Barishal-Chattogram coast near Bhola (island) by tomorrow (Wednesday) morning as a cyclonic storm," it said.
After an emergency meeting of the Cyclone Preparedness Program implementation board in Dhaka, the Bangladeshi State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Md Enamur Rahman said it was decided to move people in vulnerable areas to shelters when danger signal No. 7 is issued.
At least 1.5 million people from 10 most vulnerable districts would be evacuated to shelters, Rahman said.
Members from Bangladesh's navy, coast guard, police, voluntary organizations and political parties are supporting the massive evacuation efforts.
The maximum sustained wind speed within 64 km of the storm center is about 90 kph rising to 110 kph in gusts or squalls. And the sea will remain high near the severe cyclone center.
Against this backdrop, Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority has suspended operations of all types of river vessels on all inner routes as the depression in the bay turned into cyclonic storm Hamoon.
Officials said control rooms set up in the capital Dhaka and elsewhere in the country were on constant touch with the local authorities where thousands of volunteers joined hands with government officials in carrying out the evacuation and salvage campaign.
Announcements were being made in loudspeakers in the coastal districts and red flags were raised in disaster-prone areas.
TV reports said southern and southeastern coastal districts have been experiencing gusty winds from Tuesday morning as the cyclone was approaching.
Bangladeshi Disaster Management and Relief Secretary Kamrul Hasan after a meeting at the ministry on Tuesday said they have made all-out preparations to tackle the cyclone devastations.
"We'll try our best to reduce loss or damage to life and property by making maximum use of capabilities," he said. ■