By Dale Western on 15 May 2013

Hundreds of thousands of people are being evacuated from coastal areas of Bangladesh threatened by Cyclone Mahasen.

The Bangladeshi authorities have raised the danger level to seven out of 10 for low-lying areas around Chittagong and the coastal district of Cox's Bazar. The cyclone, heading north-east through the Bay of Bengal, is estimated to reach land on Thursday.

Burma is also threatened and evacuation efforts are under way there.

Tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims living in camps in low-lying areas of Burma's Rakhine state are feared to be at risk. They were displaced by ethnic violence last year and many are reluctant to move from the camps.

67615442 Cyclone Mahasen464 150513 278X300Hla Maung said he lost his mother and two young daughters during the clashes between Muslims and Buddhists. "I lost everything ... I don't want to go anywhere. I'll stay here. If I die, I want to die here," he said.

The country's National Planning Minister, Tin Naing Thein, said more than 150,000 people had been relocated to higher ground. The government said a fifth of those were Rohingyas.


The Bangladesh Meteorological Department said the storm could create a surge 2m high in coastal districts and residents are being urged to make for cyclone shelters.

The airport in Cox's Bazar has closed and Chittagong airport is to shut over the next few hours. The United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs said Cyclone Mahasen appeared to have weakened to a Category One storm.

But the UN still described it as "life-threatening" for 8.2 million people in Bangladesh, Burma and north-east India.

At least 50 Rohingya Muslims were feared drowned on Tuesday when boats evacuating them from the path of the cyclone capsized off western Burma.

More than 100,000 people died in 2008 when Cyclone Nargis devastated many of Burma's coastal villages.

Columbus Direct customers who have purchased their policies after 15 May 2013 09:59 GMT will not be covered under the policy for Travel Delay, Abandonment, or Missed Departure as a direct or indirect result of the storm.

Please note that the airlines should make themselves responsible for offering clients alternate flights / compensation for additional accommodation and so these elements would not be covered under the policy.

Please contact customer services if you have any queries.

Tel: 0845 888 8893

← Choosing Skis - Chemmy Alcott helps you find your Ski Personality

Deadly tornado strikes Texas town of Granbury →