Cyclone submerges villages and kills over 200 people in Bangladesh
Dhaka (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The provisional death toll from Cyclone Sidr which slammed into Sothern Bangladesh overnight stands at over 200 people. Entire villages have been submerged and trees uprooted. “The casualty figures will rise," said an official in Barisal, one of the worst hit districts, while authorities warn that the extent of material damage is still unclear. The State Ministry has declared many areas are isolated and that telephone and power lines are down.
Hundreds of thousands were evacuated ahead of the cyclone’s landfall. At least 28 fishermen were lost at sea during the storms arrival. A 5 meter tidal surge submerged the towns of Patuakhali, Barguna and Jhalakathi, where 70 thousand people lived. Eye-witnesses in the capital, Dhaka tell of roofs and buildings being shook by the strong winds which reached over 250 Km/h. Many rural houses in the area were literally blown away in the air currents. In this area homes are often made of straw, wood and tin.
Passing through Dhaka, the storm weakened in intensity. Authorities are organising emergency relief, with search teams deployed along the coast to find survivors and convoys of tents and medicine sent out for evacuees. Over 40 thousand volunteers, police and health workers are already operative along the coast.
The Cyclone which originated in the Bay of Bengal, is now heading towards central India and the western coast of Myanmar.
Southern Bangladesh is frequently hit by cyclone, but expert say that Sidr has been the strongest yet this season. The country has developed an early warning system for storms, following a devastating cyclone left over 500 thousand dead in 1970.