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Major weather warning for B'desh fishermen

Fishermen returned to shore as a cyclone packing winds of up to 160 kms an hour churned its way across the Bay of Bengal.

india Updated: Apr 29, 2006 12:03 IST
Associated Press
Associated Press

Hundreds of fishermen along Bangladesh's southern coast returned to shore Saturday as a cyclone packing winds of up to 160 kms an hour churned its way across the Bay of Bengal, officials said.

The cyclone was moving in a north and northeasterly direction, but the Bangladesh Meteorological Department said Saturday that it was unclear if it would reach the coast.

Cyclone Mala, which in Bengali language means "a garland of flowers," was centered about 650 kms south-southwest of the seaport of Chittagong and 550 kms south-southwest of the coastal district of Cox's Bazar, the department said.

Hundreds of fishing boats returned to shore Saturday after authorities issued a warning signal, said Mujibur Rahman, a spokesman for the Cox's Bazar Fishing Boat Owners Association.

Warning flags have been raised along the coast, and about 34,000 Bangladesh Red Crescent Society volunteers have been put on standby to help move people to safer places if needed, said the society's spokesman in Chittagong, Golam Rabbani.

It was not clear if or when Cyclone Mala will hit Bangladesh's coast, but a duty weather official who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with official policy, said if it reached the coast it would happen later on Saturday.

"We do not overrule any possibility unless it goes away," he said.

Bangladesh, a delta nation of 140 million people, is hit by cyclones almost every year. A 1991 storm killed 138,000 people.

Cyclones -- known as typhoons in much of east Asia and hurricanes in the Western hemisphere -- are large-scale rotating storms that generate high winds and typically form at sea before moving inland.

First Published: Apr 29, 2006 12:03 IST