Bangladesh Authorities have shut Chittagong port and airports and evacuated thousands of people from coastline districts in anticipation of the full force of Cyclone Bijli that has already hit shorelines on Friday April 17th 2009. Heading north-easterly from the Bay of Bengal, the cyclone is expected to trigger high waves and a tidal surge which may reach up to 3 metres above the normal tide. The low-lying areas of the coastal districts and their offshore islands are likely to be hit by a storm surge 7-10 feet above the normal sea level.
Approximately 10,000 people have been evacuated to shelters in Cox's Bazar, a fishing port south east of Bangladesh, as the storm battered many thatched houses and uprooted trees, local residents said. Heavy rain swept Cox's Bazar town, and power supplies were disrupted, according to Reuters news agency.
Many fishing boats may have been caught in the rough seas while returning to shore, Cox's Bazar officials told reporters, although no death or injury has been reported so far.
The Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD), citing coastal observations and radar imageries, said the storm moved north easterly and started crossing Chittagong coast by 7:30pm local time. It may take another 4-6 hours to complete its crossing across the coast.
Muslim Aid Head Office and field staff are currently monitoring the situation and also members of staff, both local and overseas, remain on standby to coordinate an emergency response and delivery of emergency relief to those in the most affected areas.