28 April, 2006

Cyclone Red Alert: Bangladesh & Myanmar

Weather officials in Bangladesh and Myanmar have put both countries on storm alert because Tropical Cyclone -- Mala is expected to make landfall on Saturday April 29th, somewhere between Chittagong and Cox's Bazaar. According to news reports, the Bangladesh Coast Guard and volunteers have been put on alert in preparation for the storm approaching. The GDACS have marked this tropical storm as a Category 4/5 hurricane. AlertNet have also issued a report on the cyclone.

The Meteorology and Hydrology Office of Cox’s Bazaar issued a forecast last night stating that:

It (Mala) will pass through the coastal region between Akyab in the northern part of Arakan State and Chittagong of Bangladesh within the next 72 hours. Squalls are likely in Arakan, Cox’s Bazaar and Chittagong areas in 48 hours. Surface wind speed during the squalls may reach between 50 to 60 mph.

Today, Cyclone Mala destroyed several houses in Myanmar's southwestern delta region. Mala is expected to intensify in the delta and western Rakhine state early tomorrow and precautionary measures are currently being taken. A senior meteorological department officer (who spoke on condition anonymity due to policy) said:
"Several houses were destroyed and many houses were de-roofed by the storm, which hit Haingyi island with a wind speed of more than 120km per hour"

An alert has also been issued for the Andaman Islands by the Area Cyclone Warning Centre in India, stressing that a very severe cyclonic storm, (Mala) has formed over Southeast and adjoining East Central Bay of Bengal, and lay centred at 5.30 pm today at about 250 km northwest of Port Blair. The report also mentioned that:
The system is likely to intensify further and move in a North-North-Easterly direction towards Arakan Coast with gale wind speed reaching 80 to 100 kmph and was likely along and off the coastal areas of Andaman islands during next 12 hours. Under its influence, heavy rainfall is likely at a few places in Andaman islands during next 36 hours. Great danger signal number IX has been hoisted at Port Blair where the sea will be high to very high.

In Thailand, the Northern and Western regions of the Kingdom were on high alert on Friday as tropical cyclone Mala gathered strength in the Bay of Bengal and headed for the Burmese coast. At 4pm today, the cyclone, with maximum wind speeds of 120kph, was 500km from Rangoon and travelling north at 15kph. A news report expected that Mala would strike land some time on Saturday night. The North can expect widespread thundershowers, downpours and associated flash floods in some areas for the next four days.

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