AFAP manages the Australian-Pacific Centre for Emergency and Disaster Information (APCEDI) to provide news on natural disaster events in the Asia-Pacific region and to help with rapid disaster response assessment. This was originally a communications network that was activated during a disaster to disseminate information to our Asia-Pacific NGO offices. Now APCEDI has a much wider application across the Asia-Pacific Region.

Friday, April 28, 2006

APCEDI ALERT Bay of Bengal (BOB-02B), Cyclone Mala, #2, 2006: Cyclone Mala bears down on Myanmar's Arakan Coast

The India Department of Meteorology and the Joint Typhoon Warning Centre are continuing to provide guidance and tracking information on Cyclone Mala in the Bay of Bengal.

Cyclone Mala is located approximately 300 km northwest of Port Blair in the Andamans. It continues to strengthen rapidly and is now a strong Category 3 cyclone on the Saffir Simpson Scale. It could attain Category 4 Super Cyclone status later today.

As the cyclone intensifies, the threat to the Myanmar's Arakan coast is increasing. This is now the most intense cyclone in the Bay of Bengal since the 1999 Orissa Super Cyclone. The potential effects of a major Category 3-4 storm on the Arakan Coast could be devastating. Indian news media are covering the storm closely.

On the current forecast track, Cyclone Mala will pass to the northwest of the Andaman Islands toward Myanmar's Arakan Coast. It is forecast to pass just south of the main port city of Akyab (Sittwe), the capital of Rakine (Rohinga) State. However, any change in track toward the north could position the cyclone further toward Bangladesh. It should be noted that it is nearly 15 years to the date (April 29, 1991) that a cyclone devastated the Chittagong Region of Bangladesh.

Should the Cyclone move into the Arakan Coast, it could end up causing extensive flooding in the Irriwady Basin as well as severe flash flooding in the Arakan Mountains and the coastal rivers of Rakine (Rohinga) State. The main city of Akyab (Sittwe) is now at high risk and precautions should be in place. However, given the relatively closed nature of the situation in Myanmar, it is unknown what precautions are being put into place for this potentially severe emergency.

The Andaman Islands are currently experiencing phenomenal seas and gales conditions particularly in the northern part of the group. The small Myanmar outliers of Coco and Preparis Islands would likewise be experiencing similar conditions. India has raised the signal to number IX from Port Blair northward. This indicates high danger.

All interests in Myanmar, Bangladesh and the Andaman Islands should closely monitor the status of this severe cyclone. Major evacuations of low lying areas along the Arakan Coast will likely be needed imminently.


No. BOB/1/2006/ 24
Dated 28th April 2006

Subject: Very Severe Cyclonic Storm over east-central Bay of Bengal

The Very Severe Cyclonic Storm “MALA” over east-central Bay of Bengal moved slightly northeastwards and lay centered at 0530 hrs. IST near Lat.14.00 N and Long. 91.00 E, about 300 km northwest of Port Blair. The system is likely to intensify further and move slowly in a north-northeasterly direction.

The numerical models as well as synoptic patterns continue to suggest that the system may intensify further and track in a north-northeasterly direction towards Arakan coast with a possible landfall on 30th April.

Under its influence, scattered heavy to very heavy rainfall is likely over Andaman Islands during next 24 hours. Gale force winds reaching 100-120 kmph also likely over Andaman Islands during the same period.

State of the sea will be phenomenal along and off Andaman coast. Fishermen are advised not to venture into the Sea during the same period.

Damage Expected :-Extensive damage to Kutcha houses. Minor damage to power and communication lines due to uprooting of large avenue trees.

Action Suggested :-Total suspension of fishing operations. Coastal hutment dwellers to be moved to safer places. People in affected areas to remain indoors.

APCEDI will continue to monitor the progress of Cyclone Mala as it moves toward the Arakan Coast.

While APCEDI does not normally monitor cyclones in the Bay of Bengal, given AFAP's tsunami relief effort and that of many agencies in the region, APCEDI will continue to bring reports from this region, as warranted, for the next year or longer if needed.

Kevin Vang
APCEDI Coordinator

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