By Aaron Sheldrick and Debarati Roy, Bloomberg
Mumbai: Tropical Cyclone Akash smashed into Bangladesh, south of Chittagong with winds of 120 kilometres per hour (75 miles per hour), the US Joint Navy Typhoon Warning Centre said. Reports said one person died and 100 are missing.
The centre of the storm, with typhoon strength winds that were gusting to 147 kilometres per hour, crossed the coast about 2 a.m. Bangladesh time, near Cox’s Bazaar about 100 kilometres south-southeast of Chittagong, according to the Warning Centre’s website. Akash was moving north at 31 kilometres per hour and was weakening as it moved inland.
One fisherman was killed and about 100 others are missing in the region of Cox’s Bazaar after 80,000 people were evacuated before the storm arrived, Reuters reported, citing local officials. There was some damage to crops and disruption to power supplies, Reuters said.
Akash “has weakened now. The wind speed has slowed down to 40 kilometres to 50 kilometres per hour, but we still have a local cautionary signal 3 for coastal areas,” M.D. Rashaduzzaman, assistant meteorologist at Bangladesh Meteorological Department, said from Dhaka when contacted by phone. “This essentially means it’s dangerous for ships to sail.”
He said he couldn’t confirm reports of deaths or damage.
Bangladesh is regularly hit by cyclones that form in the Bay of Bengal, bringing flooding and devastation to local communities. The country’s worst cyclone, which hit near Cox’s Bazaar, caused the deaths of 138,000 people in 1991, according to the New York Times.
In the Indian Ocean, the US Navy uses the term tropical cyclones to describe all large circular weather systems built around an area of low pressure.
That differs from its conventions for the Pacific, where a three-level classification is used: cyclonic storms with winds less than 62 kilometres per hour are classified as tropical depressions; winds between 63 and 118 kilometres per hour are classified as tropical storms; and winds of 119 kilometres per hour and greater are typhoons.
In the Atlantic, US meteorologists refer to typhoons as hurricanes and classify them according to the five-tier Saffir-Simpson scale.