Bangladesh on alert over cyclone in Bay of Bengal

DHAKA, Bangladesh — Authorities in Bangladesh's southern coastal region told local officials to begin preparations Wednesday in case a cyclone brewing in the Bay of Bengal hits the area where about 1 million Rohingya refugees live in squalid camps.

Cyclone Titli is moving toward the coast of Andhra and Odisha in India, but Bangladesh's Meteorological Department advised ports and others in the country to stay alert.

A cautionary signal 4 was announced for the ports, which means they could be affected by the storm.

Officials in Cox's Bazar met Wednesday to prepare plans for the sprawling refugee camps where the Rohingya Muslims live after fleeing army-led violence in neighboring Myanmar.

On Wednesday evening, the cyclone was centered 945 kilometers (590 miles) southwest of Chittagong port, which handles almost 80 percent of the country's foreign trade.

The weather office advised all fishing and cargo boats to take shelter along the shore.

The Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority warned ferries to suspend services.

In Cox's Bazar district, Kamal Hossain, the top local government administrator, held a meeting with officials to make plans for at least three islands and the refugee camps.

"Prepare for any situation. It's not clear what will happen, but we need to take preparations to deal with it in case it hits us," he was quoted as saying by local journalists. Hossain advised the officials to concentrate on refugee camps that are close to the sea.

Neighboring Myanmar launched a crackdown on minority Rohingya Muslims in August last year, pushing about 700,000 to flee the Buddhist-majority country to Bangladesh, where they joined other Rohingya refugees who had fled in previous years.

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