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Asia-pacific

Scores dead after cyclone hits Bay of Bengal

Latest update : 2009-05-26

At least 94 people have died after a cyclone slammed into the coasts of Bangladesh and India on Monday. Emergency services are scrambling to deliver food and shelter to the hundreds of thousands of people still marooned.

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 94 people and leaving hundreds of thousands homeless.
   
Many of the casualties in Bangladesh were reported to be children who drowned when Cyclone Aila triggered a four-metre (13-feet) surge as it made landfall Monday.
   
About 430,000 people were marooned, and military and civil defence team 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," he said.
   
The government's disaster control spokesman, Dalil Uddin, said 59 people in Bangladesh were confirmed dead, including 23 from one village who were swept out to sea after a dam burst.
   
"Hundreds of kilometres (miles) of road 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.
   
As well as the loss of life, tens of thousands of people across the region 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.
   
Bangladesh police said rescue teams were yet to reach many coastal villages.
   
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

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