Cyclone kills hundreds in coastal areas of Bangladesh

Dhaka -- Hundreds of people were reported dead yesterday in a cyclone that battered coastal areas of Bangladesh and triggered a nationwide disaster alert.

The Bangladeshi Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, said while on a visit to the affected areas: "We are not appealing for international help but of course will welcome [it] if anyone offers to assist."

This low-lying nation, already on a virtual flood "war footing", launched a massive rescue and relief operation in areas devastated by high winds and tidal seas on Monday.

Many stricken villages remained isolated, so official figures were incomplete, with the early confirmed death toll put at 95. But local newspapers said the cyclone, roaring in from the Bay of Bengal, had killed hundreds and damaged crops near harvest time.

The government-run Bangladesh Times said up to 500 people were feared dead. Other newspapers, quoting their own sources, put the death toll at more than 350, with more than 2,000 people injured in Chittagong alone.

Some 250 others had been killed in Cox's Bazar, one of the areas worst hit by the cyclone, the newspapers said.

About 100 fishermen from the coastal district of Patuakhali were missing at sea, newspaper reporters in Chittagong said. The known death toll so far was 95, government officials said: 50 in the city of Chittagong and a total of 45 at Bashkhali, Maheshkhali and Cox's Bazar.

The official figure for injuries rose to "thousands", the Cyclone Preparedness Centre in Chittagong stated. Earlier, it had claimed that more than 100 were injured. Army, naval and police units joined thousands of volunteers fanning out across coastal regions in south-east Bangladesh. The cyclone ravaged Chittagong, the Cox's Bazar and Tenkaf districts and several islands on Monday with 124mph winds.

The Prime Minister said she was happy over the way her government had handled the crisis. "The death toll has been fewer than feared. Rescue and relief operations are continuing smoothly," Ms Hasina said. She earlier assured her countrymen and women that there would be no dearth of help in the wake of the disaster.

Foreign aid agencies, including Care International and Oxfam, said they had yet to receive full reports from places battered by the cyclone, which tapered off by midnight on Monday. "Most of the disaster-hit areas have not been accessed yet. It's very difficult to get a clear picture immediately," one official said.

Disaster management officials said the death toll was "much lower than feared" because the the cyclone struck the coastline during low tide. "Otherwise the tidal surge could be much higher and might have swept over many low-lying islands," one official said.

Bangladesh's worst recorded cyclone, in 1991, killed at least 138,000 people and left millions homeless.

A navy vessel with relief supplies was sailing to Saint Martin's island, which was inundated by a six-foot tidal surge. Army helicopters were dropping supplies elsewhere.

Officials in Chittagong said power cuts since Monday had forced hundreds of water pumps to stop working, causing a severe shortage of drinking water.

They said nearly 400,000 houses had been damaged and 15,000 cattle killed. More than 1.5 million people were made homeless or affected otherwise, officials said on Tuesday.

Chittagong harbour had suffered substantial damage, port officials said without giving details. The Panamanian-flagged ship Esco Argo, which sent an SOS message during the cyclone saying it was sinking in the Bay of Bengal, was safe, the ship's local agents, Progoti Shipping Limited, said. "We feel the SOS was issued in advance amid an unpredictable situation," the agents added.

Agriculture officials said there had been some damage to rice crops but shrimp cultivation was more seriously affected.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
newsAnother week, another dress controversy on the internet
Life and Style
Scientist have developed a test which predicts whether you'll live for another ten years
health
Sport
Dave Mackay lifts the FA Cup in 1967 having skippered Spurs to victory
football
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executive - Call Centre Jobs

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - Covent Garden, central London - £45k - £55k

£45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...

Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator - Lancashire - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Support Engineer / Network ...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Developer

£26000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Web Developer is required to ...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn