Bangladesh and India launched large-scale relief operations after a cyclone spawned a a four-metre surge that devastated the northern Bay of Bengal on Monday, killing at least 126 people and leaving hundreds of thousands homeless.
AFP - Bangladesh and India launched major relief operations Tuesday after a cyclone tore into the northern coast of the Bay of Bengal, killing at least 126 people and leaving hundreds of thousands homeless.
Many of the casualties in Bangladesh were children who drowned when Cyclone Aila triggered a four-metre (13-foot) surge as it made landfall Monday.
About 430,000 people were marooned, and military and civil defence teams were struggling to deliver food, water and emergency shelters, government officials in Dhaka told AFP.
Bangladesh's disaster management minister Abdur Razzak said people on remote islands had been worst affected and could not be reached because of rough seas.
"Army helicopters are being deployed to carry food and other supplies until the seas calm. But they could not land in some of the islands because of bad weather," he said.
The minister said 91 people in Bangladesh were confirmed dead, including 23 from one village that was swept out to sea after a dam burst.
"Tidal water has started receding. But there is a huge crisis of drinking water in the remotest areas. We have ordered army to set up some 278 water purification plants there," he added.
Dalil Uddin, a spokesman of the disaster control room, said several hundred people had been injured as the storm tore over an area where about three million people live, damaging or destroying 180,000 mud and bamboo homes.
"Hundreds of kilometres (miles) of roads and embankments have been wiped out," he said.
At least 35 people were also killed in India's West Bengal when the cyclone hit the crowded state capital of Kolkata, bringing down trees and electricity pylons and smashing cars, the state's relief minister Mortaza Hossain said.
"The cyclone left a trail of destruction everywhere. Army and border guards have been called out to clear the debris and to reach out to the affected areas with relief," he said.
Several people were killed in vehicle accidents involving fallen trees, he said.
Tens of thousands of people across the region also lost their homes and livelihoods with scores of shrimp farms destroyed and herds of goats and cows washed away.
"The situation is very grim. These people are homeless. Their homes have been destroyed," area chief Kazi Atiur Rahman told AFP via telephone from the Bangladeshi coastal district of Khulna, close to the border with India.
"We've lost at least 50,000 bamboo and mud-built houses which have been washed away."
Rahman said the surge of sea water meant demand for fresh drinking supplies was urgent. Dozens of people were still missing in the district.
In neighbouring Koyra, 20,000 houses were destroyed by the surge and strong winds of up to 90 kilometres (56 miles) an hour, local official Arif Pasha said.
The low-lying region frequently experiences tropical storms and cyclones during the monsoon season.
In 2007, more than 3,500 people were killed, most of them in Bangladesh, when Cyclone Sidr hit the same districts.
Date created : 2009-05-26