Friday, November 16, 2007

Nearly 600 killed, thousands missing in cyclone-hit Bangladesh

Nearly 600 people were killed and thousands others, mostly fishermen, went missing as one of the worst cyclones in decades accompanied by huge waves and torrential rains battered Bangladesh's southwestern coast, destroying houses and affecting power supply countrywide.

At least 500 trawlers with over 3000 fishermen have been missing since cyclone Sidr, packing winds upto 240 kms, made landfall at Khulna-Barisal coast on Thursday evening and swept central Bangladesh, including the capital Dhaka.

The Army backed by air force choppers was called in to help in rescue efforts with the death toll reaching near 600, television channels here reported. Barguna district was worst affected where over 120 people were killed.

Local residents claimed to have seen nearly 500 bodies in Barguna.

The private UNB news agency, however, said at least 425 people had died while government officials put the toll to over 260 which is likely to rise.

Other areas devastated in the cyclone included Dublar Char, an island in the Subdarbans forest, and districts of Khulna and Barisal.

Thousands of acres of paddy fields were damaged with lowlands being flooded in Patuakhali district, where 43 people died, officials said. Nearly 80 per cent of shanties and thatched houses in coastal areas were destroyed, officials said

Power supply to entire Bangladesh, including Dhaka, was disrupted with the failure of the national grid. Officials said that only 10 per cent of the demand was being met.

Power department officials have said they were expecting to restore the supply in the next two days.

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