DHAKA, Bangladesh — With a strong cyclone approaching Bangladesh late Saturday night, authorities used more than 50,000 volunteers and officials to evacuate hundreds of thousands of people to shelters across the low-lying delta nation's vast coastal region.
The weather office in the nation's capital, Dhaka, said cyclone Bulbul weakened around midnight on Saturday, but threats for a violent landfall remained intact when tidal surge could sweep the vast coastal region. The latest weather forecast said the cyclone could cross the southwestern coastal region around 3:00 a.m. local time.
More than 300,000 people had moved to safer places and up to 1.8 million were expected to be evacuated by Saturday evening, said Enamur Rahman, Bangladesh's junior disaster management minister.
The cyclone was moving over the Bay of Bengal and was initially expected to hit the country's coast at around midnight. More than 5,000 shelters had been prepared by Saturday morning.
Ayesha Khatun, a deputy director of the Meteorological Department, said in the evening that the impact of the cyclone was already being felt, with rain starting to fall in the region.
The weather office earlier Saturday issued the most severe storm signal for Bulbul, which was packing maximum sustained winds of 46 mph and gusts of up to 93 mph.