As cyclone "Bulbul" brews within 500 kilometres of the coastal areas in southern Bangladesh, Cox's Bazar is reeling under the wrath of the cyclonic storm, with over 11 lakh Rohingya refugees residing in the district.
The low-lying parts of the district have already been inundated. Landslides, triggered by torrential rain, is feared to devastate the Rohingya camps and shanties soon.
The Cox's Bazar district administration has opened a control room and said it has finalized preparations to embrace the cyclone. A meeting of the district level disaster management committee was held on Friday afternoon.
Cox's Bazar Deputy Commissioner Md Kamal Hosen briefed the press after the meeting. He said landslides may hit the Rohingya camps hard, and cyclonic storms may uproot the shanties.
"International, national and local non-governmental organizations have taken their respective preparations. The have alerted their volunteers," he added.
The army is also ready to coordinate rescue and relief efforts, said the deputy commissioner.
Kamal Hosen shaded light on collective preparations for the post-cyclone period and for minimising losses.
Meanwhile, the disaster management committee has prepared a total of 538 cyclone shelters in eight upazilas of the district. Multi-storied educational institutions have been instructed to remain open so that people can take shelter there.
As many as 6,400 volunteers are ready and they are relaying danger signals and weather updates at the disaster-prone areas.
Red Crescent volunteers, fire service personnel, Ansar and VDP men and local administration are on alert as well. The Upazila Nirbahi Officers have been asked to maintain round the clock communication with the deputy commissioner's office.
1200 tourists stranded at St Martin's Island
St Martin's Island Union Parishad Chairman Noor Ahmed said as many as 1,200 tourists have been stranded at the island as the ferry service between Teknaf and St Martin's has been suspended.
A number of tourists who arrived on the island on Thursday opted to stay the night at the island.
The district administration on Friday suspended the ferry service between the St Martin's Island and Teknaf.
The chairman said the hotels at the island have been ordered to accommodate the stranded people until the cyclone passes through.
The island has five cyclone shelters and a number of multi-storied buildings.
"The guests will be shifted to those if required," added Noor Ahmed.
Fishing boats returning to shore in Cox's Bazar
Cox's Bazar Boat Owners Association General Secretary Abdul Khalek said most of the fishing boats have returned to shore.
"A few boats are yet to come back," said Khalek, adding those will return by Friday midnight.
It has been drizzling in Cox's Bazar since Thursday night. Local representatives from coastal Najirartek, Pekuar Mognama, Kutubdia Bhanga Beribadh, Moheshkhali's low-lying areas and Pokhkhali said high tides have inundated the areas.
Assistant meteorologist of the district weather office Abdur Rahman said the sea ports were asked to show the danger signal 4 till 6:00pm on Friday. The Bay of Bengal will remain rough and the danger signal may be raised further.
"Rain accompanied by the storm may trigger landslides," Abdur Rahman added.
Additional Police Superintendent of Cox's Bazar Iqbal Hossain said they are on alert so that law and order does not deteriorate during the disaster.
He said the police stations and officers-in-charge have been instructed to remain vigilant.