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Bangladesh braces for a mighty cyclone

STRONG winds lashed the Bangladesh coastline yesterday as the disaster-prone south Asian country braced itself for a cyclone gaining strength in the Bay of Bengal.

"Up to 50-kilometer per hour winds accompanied by rain lashed the coasts, driving many people from their homes, and also triggered a moderate sea surge," said Nurul Islam, a resident of Cox's Bazar coastal district.

Local meteorology officials said the storm would likely intensify and push the sea surge up to 3 meters above the normal tide.

Activity at the busy Chittagong port was suspended and ships moved to outer anchorages or safer locations, said port chairman Commodore R. U. Ahmed.

Authorities suspended flights at the airport last night, while many tourists have already left Cox's Bazar beach resort, officials said.

Yesterday "Bijli" was packing winds up to 90km/h around the storm center, about 345km from Chittagong, 315km from Cox's Bazar and 200km from Mongla port.

A devastating cyclone in April 1991 killed around 140,000 people in Bangladesh, while Cyclone Sidr swept part of the coast in November 2007, killing around 3,000.


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