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Bangladesh and India brace for Cyclone Remal

May 26, 2024

A superstorm is expected to make landfall in Bangladesh and India on Sunday, bringing storm surges and high winds. Cyclone Remal is the first cyclone in the Bay of Bengal ahead of this year's monsoon season.

A man stands on the bank of Kholpetua river with an umbrella before the Cyclone Remal hits Bangladesh
Bangladesh and India have experienced frequent severe storms in recent yearsImage: Mohammad Ponir Hossain/REUTERS

Tens of thousands of residents from Bangladeshi coastal villages fled their homes on Sunday for shelters further inland as an intense cyclone approaches over the Bay of Bengal before hitting Bangladesh and parts of neighboring India.

The Bangladesh Meteorological Department said Cyclone Remal would make landfall between 6:00 pm and midnight (1200-1800 GMT), bringing high waves and gales with gusts of up to 130 kilometers (81 miles) per hour.

The number of cyclones hitting the region has increased in recent years under the impact of climate change.

Airports, seaports closed

The airport in Bangladesh's second-largest city of Chittagong has closed, along with the country's three seaports, while  India's Kolkata airport will suspend flight operations from midnight on Sunday for 21 hours.

Bangladeshi authorities have raised the weather alert to its highest level. 

Fishers have been warned against taking to the sea, and an evacuation order has been issued for those in regions likely to be hardest-hit by the cyclone.

 Clouds over Kolkata
The Indian state of West Bengal with its capital, Kolkata, seen here, will be among the regions hit by the stormImage: Goutam Hore/DW

The Bangladeshi government's disaster management secretary, Kamrul Hasan, told AFP news agency that 4,000 cyclone shelters had been prepared along the Bay of Bengal coastline. 

He said some 78,000 volunteers were alerting coastal residents and helping evacuate vulnerable people.

The India Meteorological Department said in a statement that storms like Remal can uproot trees and cause major damage to thatched homes and power and communication lines.

tj/lo (Reuters, AP, AFP)