DHAKA, May 2 (Xinhua) -- Severe cyclone Fani formed in the Bay of Bengal was expected to make landfall in Bangladesh coasts on Friday, the meteorological office in Dhaka said Thursday.
The cyclone was poised to be the strongest landfalling cyclone to hit India and Bangladesh.
Bangladeshi authorities suspended loading and unloading of goods in Chattogram, the biggest seaport in southeast Bangladesh as a precautionary measure.
Weather forecasters were asked to hoist danger signal No. 6 for Chattogram and Cox's Bazar, a seaside city in southeast Bangladesh and signal No. 7 for Mongla seaport in southwest Bangladesh.
Dhaka Met Office said in a special bulletin on Thursday morning that the cyclone over west-central Bay moved north-northeastwards further over the same area.
The cyclone was likely to intensify further and move in a north-northeasterly direction, cross Odisha coast in India and then move towards eastern Indian state of West Bengal and gradually towards Bangladesh's southern Khulna region by Friday evening, it said.
The cyclone may sweep over the coastal districts with wind speed from 150-180 km per hour while crossing Bangladesh.
On Thursday morning, according to the bulletin, the eye of the cyclonic storm stood 1,065 km southwest of Chattogram port.
People in low-lying areas in southern and southeastern Bangladesh were asked to go to cyclone shelters. All passenger launches in the country have to suspend their services until further order.
Officials said people in the coastal districts were advised to stay in safe places. Cyclone centers were opened and volunteers kept on alert.
Weekly holiday in coastal districts was canceled.
Announcements were being made in loudspeakers in the coastal districts and red flags were raised in disaster prone areas.
TV reports said southern and southeastern coastal districts have been experiencing gusty winds from Thursday morning as an impact of the cyclone approaching.
Shamsuddin Ahmed, director at Bangladesh Meteorological Department, told journalists Thursday that Fani will surely make its landfall in Bangladesh whether it crosses India or not.
"We've made all-out preparations to tackle the cyclone," Bangladeshi Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said Thursday.
"We'll try our best to reduce loss or damage to life and property by making maximum use of capabilities."
The economic loss from cyclone Aila, which hit Bangladesh's southwestern coast in May 2009, was estimated at 18.85 billion taka (about 269.28 million U.S. dollars). Cyclone Aila formed in Bay of Bengal battered Bangladesh's southwestern coast leaving at least 179 people dead and over 3 million affected in about a dozen of districts in the coastal areas.
Cyclone Aila was the biggest natural calamity in the South Asian delta country after the powerful cyclone Sidr hit the country's southwestern coastal belt in 2007, leaving more than 4,000 people dead or missing.