Bangladesh on Monday ordered evacuation of nearly two million people as cyclone storm Amphan approached towards its southern coasts, with officials fearing it to be a "very serious one."
"The district administration in 19 most vulnerable southwestern coastal districts have been asked to take all preparedness to save lives," Disaster Management Ministry Secretary Shah Kamal said.
Kamal said the local authorities were directed to move out at least 18 to 20 lakh people to safety as 13,078 cyclone shelters were readied while Amphan appeared to be proceeding towards the coastlines.
Meteorologists said Amphan was proceeding with a strength equivalent to a "Category 4 Atlantic hurricane or super typhoon" in the West Pacific.
Bangladesh's met office on Monday afternoon issued a "danger signal number 7" in a scale of 10 for regions under the purview of two of its southwestern seaports, Mongla and Payra.
Two other seaports of Chottogram and Cox's Bazar in the southeastern coasts were also advised to hoist danger signal number six.
Meteorologists said the powerful cyclone in the Bay of Bengal was heading directly for Bangladesh's coastlines bordering India, bringing with it the potential for major destruction and upheaval in both the countries.
Disaster management ministry officials said preparedness were ordered to launch a massive evacuation on Tuesday as the cyclone was likely to hit the coastlines by May 20 afternoon.
According to weather experts, even if the storm weakened ahead of its landfall, it could cause significant damage as there was also the potential for major storm surges, "perhaps even as high as 30 feet".
Reports from the coastal districts said volunteers and officials came out with megaphones asking people to get ready to move to safety and cyclone shelters maintaining physical distancing for coronavirus.
"The weather, however, remained hot in most of the southwestern region, which appeared to be a prelude to a major cyclone," said a journalist, who was in the southwestern coastal Khulna city.