Dhaka: Bangladesh on Tuesday ordered massive preparedness as the meteorological (Met) office said cyclonic storm Mahasen has started moving towards the southern coastlines after it was found stationary for hours at the Bay of Bengal.

“An all out preparedness is under way at the coastal areas,” disaster management minister Mahmoud Ali told a news briefing as the Met office issued its 19th bulletin in the evening saying Mahasen moved towards the northwest from the southeastern bay.

The bulletin said the storm was likely to intensify further and move in a north-northeasterly direction.

“We, however, don’t expect the cyclone to hit our coastline ahead of tomorrow [Wednesday] night or Thursday morning,” Met office director Shah Alam told Gulf News.

He also said the meteorologists were not sure if Mahasen would hit the Bangladesh coast or shift course but added that the scenario could be clearer by Thursday evening.

Thirteen districts along the southern coastlines witnessed cloudy weather along with rainfall throughout the day. Officials said they were preparing for a massive evacuation by stockpiling dry food and mobilising medical and rescue teams.

The district administrations and Red Crescent volunteers launched a campaign asking people to prepare for evacuation if required and issued directives about the “do’s and don’ts” when a cyclone or tidal surge hits.

Hundreds of small fishing boats and trawlers in the north bay returned to the shore, responding to warnings.

Chittagong Port Authority (CPA) enforced Alert 2 in the port area and asked mother vessels, cargos, oil tankers and lighter vessels to move to safer places for averting disaster.

“We have decided to halt all activities whenever the Met office issues warning signal no 5,” CPA secretary Sayed Farhaduddin told newsmen.