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29 April, 2006

Cyclone Mala Downgraded from Red Alert

Tropical Cyclone Mala is now a Category 4 cyclonic storm and most weather models indicate that the system is just a churn away from being a category-topping super cyclonic storm. Both the London-based Tropical Storm Risk Group and the US Navy's Joint typhoon Warning Centre agree that Cyclone Mala will undergo another round of intensification during the next 12 hours when winds are seen clocking speeds in excess of 125 knots (230 kmph) gusting to 150 knots (277 kmph). But the storm will start weakening subsequently with the approaching landfall, which is expected to take place on Saturday night. At 06 GMT today, the GDACS downgraded Mala from red alert to an orange one and forecasted it's maximum speed of wind at 105 gusts.

A government cyclone preparatory meeting that took place last night in Bangladesh revealed that a total of 34,000 volunteers are active and have been prepared since April 25. It was also decided that the control room of cyclone preparation programme be kept open round the clock and requested were utilities, communications and health authorities to prepare for any situation during and post-Mala. The local administration and authorities concerned have been urged to rescue the residents of the chars (shoals) and lowlands if necessary. (Source: Press Institute of Bangladesh news release)

Maritime ports of Chittagong and Cox's Bazar have been advised to lower distant warning signal number two, but to hoist local warning signal number four, said a Met news release. It also asked Mongla port to hoist distant warning signal number two. The Met forecast for the next 24 hours beginning at 6:00 pm yesterday said there are chances of rain or thundershower accompanied by temporary gusty or squally wind at few places in Chittagong, Sylhet and Barisal divisions and at one or two places in Rajshahi, Dhaka and Khulna divisions.

Thailand's Meteorological Department has warned local residents in eight northern and western provinces to brace for heavy downpours and possible flash floods due to tropical cyclone Mala, as it moves into Thailand from Myanmar. A report released by AlertNet states that Mala made landfall in Myanmar on Saturday but quickly lost intensity, quoting a senior official. The Met department in Thailand said flash floods are forecast in Mae Hong Son, Chiang Rai, Tak, Chiang Mai, Lampang, Udon Thani, Kanchanaburi, and Ratchaburi.

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