By Mainul Islam Khan
DHAKA, Bangladesh (AA) - At least five people, including a mother and daughter, have been killed -- and over 100 injured -- as result of Cyclone "Roanu", which began pounding Bangladesh’s southern coast on Saturday, according to the country’s official news agency, Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha.
A bulletin issued by Dhaka’s metropolitan office said that, as of 6am local time Saturday, radar had found the cyclone to have advanced to about 255 kilometers west-southwest of Chittagong Port, 230 kilometers west-southwest of Cox's Bazar Port, 190 kilometers south of Mongla Port and 135 kilometers south of Payra Port.
"It is likely to move in an east-north-easterly direction further and may cross the Barisal-Chittagong coast by morning/noon of May 21 [Saturday]," the bulletin read.
On Friday, the metropolitan office changed its "local warning signals" to "danger signals" for all four seaports.
A massive evacuation campaign has since been launched, meanwhile, aimed at moving citizens to safer areas before the cyclone hits with full force.
Concerned government ministries have cancelled weekends for their officials in Bangladesh’s 18 coastal districts, while some 50,000 trained volunteers remain on standby under the country’s cyclone preparedness program.
The authorities have also suspended ferry services in all the country’s main waterways.
The Chittagong Port Authority, for its part, has instructed ships to moor in outlying anchorages or inside mainland rivers for safety.
Due to its geographical location at the head of the Bay of Bengal and its sizeable coastline, Bangladesh is prone to cyclones.
In 1970 and 1991, the country was hit by two deadly cyclones that claimed some 500,000 and 140,000 lives respectively.
Within the last 20 years, however, Bangladesh has managed to reduce the number cyclone-related casualties, with a major cyclone in 2007 causing roughly 4,000 deaths.