Myanmar locals on alert for Mahasen Cyclone

MYANMAR - Rakhine people in Western Myanmar are on alert for Mahasen Cyclone in Bay of Bengal, which is expected to pass through Rakhine State (North) and Bangladesh on coming Wednesday or Thursday.

The tropical storm, which started as an atmospheric depression last Thursday has intensified and became a cyclone yesterday.

"Some people follow news from the Internet and store food in preparation. We are worried as we have earlier experience with storms after forecasts of storm possibility. Fishing boats are also on alert. Some went fishing but some not. Some even packed their things at home," a local in Myaypon Township said.

Myanmar's meteorology and hydrology department warned the people yesterday afternoon that Mahasen Cyclone will make a landfall to Myanmar-Bangladesh coast on Thursday and will impact on Rakhine State, especially Maungdaw area.

The department reported at 7pm yesterday that the storm is on its yellow stage and will start to turn towards North East tomorrow. An official from the department said at 12pm that the report had no changes until then.

On May 9 and 10, it kept informing the public that the storm will not turn towards Myanmar, while the international weather reports reported the possibility.

A local said offshore fishing is banned as usual along the Rakhine coast in this season but some fishing boats in Pauktaw, Myaypon and Yathedaung townships go out for fishing. An official from fishery department in the region said, "We have warned the fishermen not to go fishing, and to move to shelters when the storm comes."

"Weather reports from India said the cyclone will affect Myanmar. Once required, we will inform the people with loudspeakers," said Hla Thein, Chairman of Rakhine State Information and Record Keeping Committee.

Refugees in Rakhine State are also concerned about the disaster. A refugee from Minpya township said, "We are more worried as we are staying at the tents. We keep listening to the radio news."

A dried-fish seller in Sittwe said, "People are shopping to buy dry food." The authorities said most of the people are aware of the cyclone and they are closely watching the weather reports.

Mahasen cyclone with a radius of 110 to 130 miles was sighted 550 miles away from Kawthaung township at 7pm yesterday. Wind speed will reach 100 to 105 miles per hour and the tide will rise 5 to 7 feet on it makes the landfall, Myanmar Climate Change Watch reported.

The Joint Typhoon Warning Centre predicted the storm will hit Myanmar-Bangladesh border on May 15.

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