A strong cyclone is approaching along the coasts of Bangladesh and Myanmar, a call to residents to evacuate

Photo: northqueenslandregister.com.au

Volunteer activists in coastal areas of Bangladesh are urging people to take shelter through loudspeakers today ahead of an extremely strong cyclone that is expected to reach the coast of Bangladesh and Myanmar in the next 24 hours.

Cyclone Mocha is moving towards the coasts of southeastern Bangladesh and Myanmar with a speed of 160 kilometers per hour and wind gusts of up to 175 kilometers, the Indian Meteorological Service said. It is forecast to make landfall tonight in the area between Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh and Kyaukpi in Myanmar.

Bangladesh has prepared more than 1.500 shelters. More than a million Rohingya refugees who fled persecution in Myanmar are holed up right in the cyclone's path in camps in Cox's Bazar, where local authorities and the UN are preparing for the storm.

Bangladesh, which is prone to natural disasters such as floods and cyclones, has issued the highest level of alert for the Cox's Bazar district. The country's meteorological service warned that the cyclone could cause major material damage and endanger lives in eight coastal areas.

According to reports, local authorities in 20 districts have been urged to prepare for the cyclone. Of particular concern is the tiny coral island of St. Martins in the Bay of Bengal, where preparations are being made to protect thousands of residents.

According to the Flood Warning and Forecasting Center in Dhaka, the coast may be hit by severe flash floods.

Myanmar has also raised the alert to the highest level, saying the cyclone is moving towards the coast in Rakhine state, near the town of Sittwe.

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