- Associated Press - Thursday, May 16, 2013

COX’S BAZAR, Bangladesh (AP) — Cyclone Mahasan weakened Thursday afternoon into a tropical storm, causing far less damage than had been feared as it passed over Bangladesh and sparing Myanmar almost entirely.

At least 18 deaths related to Mahasen were reported in Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka, but officials had prepared for a far greater storm. Bangladesh evacuated 1 million people from coastal areas and the United Nations warned that 8.2 million people could face life-threatening conditions.

The cyclone lost power as it shed huge amounts of rainfall and then veered west of its predicted path, sparing major Bangladeshi population areas, including Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar, said Mohammad Shah Alam, director of the Bangladesh Meteorological Department.

“Thank God we have been spared this time,” local government administrator Ruhul Amin said.

The storm’s impact in Myanmar, where officials were having trouble evacuating tens of thousands of displaced Rohingya people, was minimal.

“We are out of danger and the impact of the cyclone is almost over. There can be heavy rains in some areas because of the cyclone, but the danger is over,” said Tun Lwin, the retired director general of Myanmar’s meteorology department.

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