Wed, May 27, 2009
World > Asia-Pacific

Cyclone kills 91 in Bangladesh

2009-05-26 21:38:22 GMT2009-05-27 05:38:22 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

Cyclone victims inspect the damage to their house at Patharpatima Island in the Sundarbans delta, about 100 km (62 miles) south from the eastern Indian city of Kolkata, May 26, 2009. Nearly 120 people have been killed by Cyclone Aila that ripped through Bangladesh and eastern India including the Sundarbans, which is home to the world's largest tiger reserve, officials and local media said on Tuesday, while millions remained marooned by floodwaters or living in shelters. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

Flood-affected people move to safer places after receiving relief supplies on the outskirts of Siliguri in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal, May 26, 2009. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

A Bangladeshi villager carries his belongings through flood waters in the village Sathkhira, some 400 kms from Dhaka, May 26, 2009. (Xinhua/AFP Photo)

DHAKA, May 26 (Xinhua) -- Rescuers continued efforts to search for the people missing in Monday's Cyclone Aila after it slammed into Bangladesh's southern coastal region and claimed at least 91 lives.

Officials of the country's Food and Disaster Management Ministry said on Tuesday that 91 people were confirmed dead while more than 800 others were injured and 260 millions affected.

However, local media put the death toll up to 130 on Tuesday evening, fearing that the figure might go up with the unveiling of detail pictures of death and destruction from the remote islands, some in the Bay of Bengal.

Officials and residents in the affected region feared that many people might have been washed away by the surge. They said it may take couple of days to get a clear picture of death and destruction.

The private news agency bdnews24.com, quoting local administrations, said over 100 people are still missing.

This was the biggest natural calamity in Bangladesh after cyclone Sidr battered the country's southwestern coastal belt on Nov. 15, 2007, leaving thousands of people dead or missing.

Thousands of thatched houses in the country's coastal area were washed away and hundreds of thousands of islanders marooned by 10-13 feet (3-4 meters) high surge, officials said.

The country's southwestern Satkhira and Khulna districts and southeastern Noakhali district are the most-affected area.

In southeastern Noakhali district, local police chief of Hatia sub-district Abdul Rob said structures on an offshore island Nijhum Dwip, which is under the Hatia sub-district and has a population of some 20,000 people, were almost completely damaged by the tide surge.

There are about 40,000 to 50,000 deer on the south-most island in Bay of Bengal, he said, "But we don't know what's the fate of the animals."

Food and Disaster Management Minister Abdur Razzak on Tuesday evening told reporters here that 470,000 families were affected by the cyclone that also damaged a total of 509 km embankments, flooding the low-lying offshore islands.

He said 12.3 million taka (about 175,714 U.S. dollars) cash and2,500 tons of rice were dispatched to the cyclone-hit region.

The minister said since they have adequate relief goods in stock the government will not seek international help.

A release of the Inter-Service Public Relation, press wing of the armed forces, on Tuesday night said the army has been distributing food, medicine and pure water among the affected people. Some 20 naval ships are pressed into rescue operations.

However, officials said the salvage operation in inaccessible and remote areas was being hampered by the rough sea.

The tidal surge triggered by the cyclone also washed away crops, cattle heads and wild life like spotted deer in the coastal region.

Sultan ul Islam, official of the control room under the food ministry told Xinhua some 58,950 animals died in the cyclone which also hit state of West Bengal of India.

On Nov. 15, 2007, a devastating cyclone Sidr battered Bangladesh 's southern and southwestern coastal areas leaving thousands of people dead or missing.

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