April 16, 2009 / 11:57 AM / 10 years ago

Bangladesh issues storm alert in Bay of Bengal

A view of the damaged embankment along river Baleshar at Fasiatala, 350km south west of the capital Dhaka, November 21,2007. REUTERS/Rafiqur Rahman/Files

DHAKA (Reuters) - Bangladesh asked ports to raise warning signals higher on Thursday as cyclone Bijli advanced towards the coast from the Bay of Bengal, the meteorological department said.

Authorities also ordered all fishing boats and trawlers to remain close to shore as the storm was churning menacingly, packing winds up to 80 kph.

It was about 800 kms southwest of the country’s main Chittagong port at 0900 GMT on Thursday.

“Cyclone Bijli is likely to intensify and move in a north- northeasterly direction,” said a statement from the Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD).

Meteorologists said Bijli, which means lightning, was likely to make a landfall late Saturday or early Sunday at Bangladesh’s Chittagong-Cox’s Bazar coastline.

Bangladesh grades storms with signals ranging from 1 to 10, and authorities start major preparations when the signal is raised to five or beyond.

“The ports have been asked to hoist warning signal no. 3, until further notice,” the BMD statement said.

The government in Orissa state in eastern India also issued alerts to all coastal districts and warned fishermen not to put out to sea.

Storms batter Bangladesh, a poor south Asian country every year. Cyclone Sidr ravaged its coasts in November 2007, killing nearly 3,500 people and displacing some two million.

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