YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — A cyclone spinning in the Bay of Bengal early Saturday was headed northeast after making landfall in western Burma, also known as Myanmar, and people were advised to move to strong buildings and high ground.
The Friday evening news broadcast on state television said Cyclone Giri was gaining strength and had reached land at Kyaukphyu in western Rakhine State.
Wind speeds from the storm had reached 100 mph, it said, advising people to stay indoors or move to high ground. It also warned of the possibility of landslides.
Though not as strong, the storm raises memories of Cyclone Nargis, which struck Burma in May 2008 and killed 130,000 people and destroyed 800,000 buildings. The ruling military junta was widely criticized for its preparations and response to that disaster.
Meteorological and disaster officials in the military-run nation had said Cyclone Giri could bring a storm surge as high as 12 feet when it hits the coast of Rakhine State. There was no confirmation of the effect Friday night.
A special cyclone bulletin has been published in state-run newspapers and state television and radio were broadcasting constant warnings. The messages also advised people to stay away from tall trees and electric poles and ignore rumors.
In Sittway, the Rakhine State capital, residents said authorities were using loudspeakers to warn about Giri. An official at the city's airport said it had been shut. Phone lines were down, though mobile phones were still working.
People living near the coast were moving their belongings to higher ground and making other preparations for the storm.
"To avert a cyclone disaster, we are giving an offering of three white umbrellas and three candles" at a revered temple, said shopkeeper Nu Nu Khaing.
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