Bangladesh orders 1 million evacuated as cyclone nears

May 16, 2013 05:10

CHITTAGONG, Bangladesh - Bangladesh is evacuating one million people with Cyclone Mahasen expected to hit its low-lying delta coast on Thursday evening, said the United Nations, which estimated 4.1 million people were at risk due to gale-force winds, heavy rain and flooding.

Bangladesh has raised its storm warning to seven, on a scale with a maximum of 10, as Mahasen approaches one of the poorest countries in Asia with winds of around 100 kmh (60 mph).

The storm has already killed at least seven people and displaced 3,881 in Sri Lanka as it tracked across the Bay of Bengal towards Bangladesh.

A boat carrying Rohingya Muslims in neighbouring Myanmar capsized at around midnight on Monday after hitting rocks off Pauktaw in Rakhine State while evacuating ahead of the storm. Official media said 42 people were rescued but 58 were missing.

Mahasen weakened slightly overnight, but remained a category 1 cyclone as it continued its northeast path towards Bangladesh.

"The government has ordered the evacuation of about one million people from 15 coastal districts," said the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

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