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.


London police charge homeless man with mosque stabbing

Updated 22 February 2020

London police charge homeless man with mosque stabbing

  • Suspect Daniel Horton stabbed London Central Mosque’s muazzin Raafat Maglad during daily prayers on Thursday
  • Horton will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court for a preliminary hearing later Saturday

LONDON: London police on Saturday charged a 29-year-old homeless man with causing grievous bodily harm and possessing an illegal knife he used to stab a mosque leader during prayers.
Suspect Daniel Horton stabbed London Central Mosque’s muazzin Raafat Maglad during daily prayers on Thursday.
London police quickly ruled out a terror motive.
Maglad was treated at a London hospital and returned to the mosque for Friday’s evening service with his arm wrapped in a sling,
“I forgive him. I feel very sorry for him,” Maglad told reporters on Friday.
“To me, as a Muslim, I don’t need to put any hatred in my heart.”
Several regulars at the Regent’s Park area mosque in northwest London said they had seen Horton attend a few services in the past year.
Horton will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court for a preliminary hearing later Saturday.