Cyclone hits Bangladesh after mass evacuations

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CHITTAGONG: A cyclone ripped into the Bangladeshi coast Thursday as hundreds of thousands of people hunkered down in evacuation shelters, including in a region of Myanmar torn by communal unrest.

Two people died as Cyclone Mahasen hit Bangladesh’s southern Patuakhali coast, officials said, while heavy rains and strong winds also lashed neighboring Myanmar’s northwest coast, home to tens of thousands of displaced Muslim Rohingya.

Weather officials said that Ma­hasen was likely to whip the heavily populated coastline stretching from Bangladesh’s second city Chittagong to the Cox’s Bazaar tourist region in the afternoon.

But fears of widespread damage receded as Mahasen appeared to have lost some of its power after languishing over the Bay of Bengal for several days, and made landfall-packing winds of up to 90 kilometers per hour.

“Cyclone Mahasen started crossing the Patuakhali coast at 9 a.m. [3 a.m. in Manila] Thursday,” said Shamsuddun Ahmed, deputy director of the Bangladesh Meteorological Department.

“It is not a severe cyclone. It did not gain strength in the last part of its journey as it hit the coast.”

AFP

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