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Thousands flee Bangladesh's coastal region as Cyclone Mahasen hits.

DHAKA, May 16 Kyodo

Hundreds of thousands of people in Bangladesh fled coastal areas Thursday as powerful Cyclone Mahasen made landfall on the country's southern coast.

According to local television network Shamoy, one person was killed Thursday morning as the cyclone hit the southern Patuakhali coastal district.

It started crossing Patuakhali district at about 9:15 a.m. Thursday, the Bangladesh Meteorological Department said.

The storm surge was at least 1.5 meters, but the extent of the damage caused is still unknown, local reports said.

"Its center is still in the Bay of Bengal and might hit the Chittagong port and Cox's Bazaar tourist spot in the afternoon, packing winds of up to 90 kilometers per hour," the meteorological department said.

Bangladesh has ordered the evacuation of 1 million people in low-lying coastal areas.

As it moved north over the Bay of Bengal, the cyclone also prompted mass evacuation orders in neighboring Myanmar. A spokesman of Myanmar's presidential office said Wednesday the army will move people to higher ground.

In coastal areas of Bangladesh, about 800,000 people sought refuge in 2,000 cyclone shelters, schools and colleges.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs warned Tuesday that the cyclone may bring "life threatening conditions" for more than 8 million people in northeast India, Bangladesh and Myanmar.

On Tuesday, the cyclone brought heavy rains and landslides to Sri Lanka, with seven people confirmed dead and some 3,880 people displaced due to the resulting heavy rains and landslides, it said.
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Publication:Asian Economic News
Geographic Code:9BANG
Date:May 20, 2013
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