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Half a million people evacuated as powerful cyclone approaches Bangladesh, eastern India

Posted at 8:18 AM, Nov 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-09 08:18:42-05

Cyclone Preparedness Programme officials urge people to evacuate their homes in preparation for Cyclone Bulbul, in Khulna on November 9, 2019. (STR/AFP via Getty Images)

DHAKA, Bangladesh — About 500,000 people have been evacuated from Bangladesh’s coastal region, as the nation waits for Cyclone Bulbul to hit on Saturday evening — according to the country’s disaster management minister.

The cyclone was more than 124 miles (200 kilometres) away from the Bangladesh coast and moving at a speed of 15-20 km/h, Enamur Rahman said Saturday.

“We have taken all the measures and people from coastal area — they have been moved to the cyclone shelters,” he added.

Local volunteers are helping to create awareness in the region and armed forces are present to provide security.

Operations at the Chittagong airport were suspended, Rahmann said, and tidal waves measuring 5-7 feet are expected to hit the coast as the cyclone makes landfall.

The cyclone is also due to hit the Indian state of West Bengal. The Indian Meteorological Department classified it as a severe cyclonic storm with maximum sustained wind speed of 110-120 km/hr.

Kolkata Airport also suspended its operations from 6 p.m. (7:30 a.m. ET) Saturday until 6 a.m. (7:30 p.m. ET) Sunday in anticipation of the storm.