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Flight operations temporarily suspended in Kolkata as Cyclone Bulbul gains traction

Representative Image. Photograph:( Zee News Network )

WION Web Team New Delhi, India Nov 09, 2019, 04.25 PM (IST)

Flight operations will remain suspended at the Kolkata Airport, east-India's busiest, in view of the fast approaching Bulbul Cyclone from 6 pm today to 6 am tomorrow.

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The Meteorological Department has asked local authorities their highest alert, as the cyclone is expected to unleash a storm surge as high as seven feet in coastal districts.

Gale wind warnings for gusts ranging from 35kmph to 90kmph have been issued for the coasts of Odisha, West Bengal. Fishermen have been asked to suspend operations from November 8 at the coasts of Odisha-West Bengal. Those fishing far out in the sea have been advised to return to the coast. 

Bulbul, packing a maximum wind speed of 120 kilometres per hour, is on course to make landfall near the Sundarbans, the world's largest mangrove forest, which straddles Bangladesh and part of eastern India and is home to the endangered Bengal tigers.

The Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee tweeted ''Cyclone Bulbul is about to pass through Bengal. Our state administration is closely monitoring the situation 24x7''.

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Recently, Bangladesh authorities evacuated around 100,000 people from the country's low-lying coastal villages and islands with Cyclone Bulbul set to slam into the country later on Saturday, officials said.

The cyclone is expected to hit the Bangladesh coast at around 8 pm, disaster management secretary Shah Kamal told AFP, adding there are plans to evacuate some 1.5 million people before that.

Some 55,000 volunteers have been mobilised to go door to door and alert people about the storm.

Bangladesh's low-lying coast, home to 30 million people, is regularly battered by powerful cyclones that leave a trail of devastation in their wake.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed over the last few decades in cyclones, whose frequency and intensity have increased.

(With inputs from AFP, ANI)