Cyclone kills hundreds in coastal areas of Bangladesh
Wednesday 21 May 1997
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.
- 1 Man on naked bike ride gets ejected after becoming aroused
- 3 Ann Summers survey reveals the UK's favourite sex position
- 4 Jaden Smith wears gender fluid dress to high school prom with Hunger Games actress
- 5 How much sex should I be having?
Ed Miliband returns to the backbenches but it's all a bit awkward as he tries to avoid eye-contact with fellow Labour MPs
Man on naked bike ride gets ejected after becoming aroused
Charles Kennedy 1959-2015: A gifted, compassionate politician whose career was cut short by the 'demon drink' - latest news
Ayyan Ali: Pakistan's top model now appears in the courtroom rather than on the catwalk
Isis tortures 14-year-old Syrian boy and films it in graphic video for 'propaganda purposes'
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Michael Gove determined to scrap the Human Rights Act – even if Scotland retains it
Threat to scrap Human Rights Act could see UK follow Nazi example, warns UN official
Why this year's general election was the most unfair in Britain's history
£12675 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Assistant is required...
£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Trainee Case Handler/Probate ...
£24000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: These refrigeration specialists...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an operational role and...