Cyclone kills two as Bangladesh, India evacuate two million

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Some 55,000 volunteers have been mobilized to go door to door and alert people about Cyclone Bulbul. (AFP)
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Villagers holding umbrellas carry their belongings on their way to enter a relief centre as Cyclone Bulbul is approaching, in Bakkhali near Namkhana in Indian state of West Bengal on November 9, 2019. (AFP)
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Storm clouds of the approaching Cyclone Bulbul are pictured from Kakdwip in West Bengal state on November 9, 2019. (AFP)
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An outside view from the window of a relief centre as Cyclone Bulbul is approaching, in Bakkhali near Namkhana in Indian state of West Bengal on November 9, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 09 November 2019

Cyclone kills two as Bangladesh, India evacuate two million

  • Bulbul, packing a maximum wind speed of 120 kilometers per hour, is on course to make landfall near the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest
  • Some 55,000 volunteers have been mobilized to go door to door and alert people about the storm

MOUSOUNI ISLAND, India: Cyclone Bulbul hit India and southern Bangladesh on Saturday, leaving two dead as authorities in the countries ordered more than two million people to get out of the path of the storm.
The cyclone, packing winds of up to 120 kilometres (75 miles) per hour, has "weakened" and "started crossing" India's West Bengal and Bangladesh's Khulna coast at about 9:00 pm (1500 GMT), Dhaka's Meteorological Department said in a special bulletin.
"It is likely to move in a northeasterly direction" and "weaken gradually, and may complete crossing West Bengal-Khulna coast by midnight tonight," the department said.
Airports and ports were shut down and the deaths were reported before the full force of the cyclone had hit.
One person was killed by an uprooted tree in Kolkata and another by a wall that collapsed under the force of the winds in Odisha state, authorities said.
More than 60,000 people were moved away from the coast on the Indian side of the border.
Bangladesh disaster management secretary Shah Kamal told AFP that "2.028 million" have been evacuated and moved to more than 5,500 cyclone shelters.
He said there was no reports of casualties and rejected reports in local media that dozens of local fishermen were missing on the southern coast.
Bangladeshi troops were sent to some villages, while about 55,000 volunteers went door-to-door and making loudspeaker announcements in the streets to get people away from the danger zone in villages, many of which were below sea level.
A storm surge up to two metres (seven feet) was predicted along the coast, Bangladesh's Meteorological Department said.
About 1,500 tourists were stranded on the southern island of Saint Martin after boat services were suspended due to bad weather.
Bangladesh's two biggest ports, Mongla and Chittagong, were closed because of the storm, and flights into Chittagong airport were halted.
In India, flights in and out of Kolkata airport were suspended for 12 hours because of the storm.
On the West Bengal island of Mousouni, which lies in the path of the storm, frightened residents took shelter in schools and government buildings because they had not been able to escape.
Military planes and ships have been put on standby to help in emergencies, Indian authorities said.
Bulbul hit the coast at the Sundarbans, the world's largest mangrove forest, which straddles Bangladesh and part of eastern India, and is home to endangered species including the Bengal tiger and the Irrawaddy dolphins.
Bangladesh's low-lying coast, home to 30 million people, is regularly battered by cyclones that leave a trail of destruction.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in cyclones in recent decades.
While the frequency and intensity have increased, partly due to climate change, the death tolls have come down because of faster evacuations and the building of 4,000 cyclone shelters along the coast.
In November 2007, Cyclone Sidr killed more than 3,000 people. In May this year, Fani became the most powerful storm to hit the country in five years, but the death toll was about 12.


Hackers attempt to take down UK Labour Party’s web services ahead of election

Updated 45 min 40 sec ago

Hackers attempt to take down UK Labour Party’s web services ahead of election

  • Britain’s security agencies have warned that Russia and other countries could use cyberattacks messages on social media to attempt to disrupt the election
  • The nature of such attacks often made it difficult to attribute responsibility to any particular group, a NCSC spokesman said

LONDON: Hackers attacked Britain’s opposition Labour Party, bombarding its web services with malicious traffic in an attempt to force them offline just weeks ahead of a national election, party and security officials said on Tuesday,
“We have experienced a sophisticated and large-scale cyberattack on Labour digital platforms,” Labour said in a statement. “We took swift action and these attempts failed due to our robust security systems.
The party was confident data breach occurred, it said.
Britain’s security agencies have warned that Russia and other countries could use cyberattacks or political messages on social media to attempt to disrupt the Dec. 12 election.
Moscow has repeatedly denied Western allegations of election interference and a person with knowledge of the matter said an initial investigation had found nothing to link the Labour Party attack to a foreign state.
Britain’s National Cyber Security Center, part of the GCHQ signals intelligence agency, said the attack was a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack — a technique used by hackers to take down websites by overwhelming them with malicious traffic.
“DDoS attacks are a common form of attack used by a very wide range of attackers. Mitigation techniques are available and worked in this case,” a NCSC spokesman said.
The nature of such attacks often made it difficult to attribute responsibility to any particular group, he said.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the attack was very serious but was successfully repelled by the party’s defense systems when the digital assault began on Monday.
“But if this is a sign of things to come in this election, I feel very nervous about it all,” he said. “Because a cyberattack against a political party in an election is suspicious and something one is very worried about.”
A Labour spokesman said that while the attack had slowed down some campaign activity, they were restored on Tuesday.
The person with knowledge of the matter said any Labour Party web services currently offline were not directly connected to the attack.
Britain goes to the polls on Dec. 12 in an election called by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to try to break the Brexit deadlock in parliament more than three years since the country voted to leave the European Union.
A report by parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee has investigated Russian activity in British politics and reportedly includes charges of spying and interference in polls, including the 2016 Brexit referendum and the 2017 national election.
The government, however, has declined to publish it before the upcoming election.