(FILE) Passengers cross the Buriganga river in Dhaka, Bangladesh, 13 May 2023. EFE/EPA/MONIRUL ALAM

Around 300 fishermen missing as Cyclone Midhili hits Bangladesh

Dhaka, Nov 17 (EFE).- Some 300 fishermen remained missing as tropical cyclone Midhili hit the southwest coast of Bangladesh on Friday, forcing the authorities to order an emergency evacuation.

The storm, carrying gusts of up to 88 kilometers per hour (54.68 miles per hour), made landfall near the Payra seaport around noon local time and was expected to cross the Bangladesh coastline by the evening.

“It’s not a major cyclone. The wind speed in the diameter of the cyclone is between 62 kilometers and 88 kilometers. We expect it to complete landfall by evening,” meteorologist Abul Kalam Mallik of the Bangladesh Meteorological Department told EFE.

Despite the fact that the cyclone was not expected to cause much damage, authorities said they remained alert.

“We carried out an emergency evacuation in areas that were expected to be the worst-hit. The number of evacuees was not more than a few thousand, though,” Bangladesh’s Cyclone Preparedness Programme chief Ahmadul Haque told EFE.

Southern Barguna district’s Fishing Owners Association president Golam Mostafa Chowdhury told EFE they had lost contact with some 300 fishermen as the cyclone approached.

“We hope they are alive and have managed to take shelter in safer places. But at the moment, we are unable to contact them,” he said.

Chowdhury explained that every time a cyclone comes, fishermen, who do not get enough time to reach the shore, take shelter in small islands of the sea or in Sunderban mangrove forests along the coastline.

“Most of them usually come back once the weather becomes normal,” he said.

Midhili was the second cyclone to hit the Bangladesh coast in less than a month after Hamoon hit the southeastern Cox’s Bazar coast in late October, killing at least five people.

The country’s geographical location makes it particularly vulnerable to cyclones, which occur mostly between April and May and between October and November.

The last major cyclone to hit the country was Amphan, which killed nearly 100 people in Bangladesh and neighboring India in May 2020.