Agence France Presse

Colombo, January 9:

Sri Lanka’s tsunami-battered shores are in danger of being hit by a cyclone which is building off its east coast, the meteorological department warned today.

“It is not a cyclone at the moment but there is a possibility of a cyclone within the next 24 hours,” deputy director of the department Lalith Chandrapala said.

Alerts were being sounded on radio telling people still trying to come to terms with the tsunami devastation to be “cautious and vigilant,” Chandrapala said.

A low pressure system had developed in the Bay of Bengal around 300 km southeast of the town of Hambantota, Chandrapala said.

“There is no immediate threat to Sri Lanka but if it develops into a cyclone then we will issue a cyclone alert.” Chandrapala said the department had cautioned all government offices and police on the southeast and eastern coast, especially in districts such as Ampara and towns like Galle, Matara and Hambantota. “We are telling people to listen to radio bulletins so that they can be alert and if it strikes it is easier to evacuate people,” he said, adding, however, “We are not expecting any need for that.” A statement by the meteorological department said rain or thunderstorms with isolated heavy falls and windy conditions would prevail in the eastern Ulva and southern provinces and in parts of central province overnight and on Monday.

“Strong winds, frequent showers and rough seas are expected in the sea areas off the coast extending from Trincomalee to Matara via Hambantota,” the statement said.

Sri Lanka was seriously damaged by the tsunamis that struck on December 26, with more than 30,700 people killed and almost a million left homeless.