Nine dead as cyclone Aila hits Bangladesh

May 26th, 2009 - 1:21 am ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, May 25 (DPA) At least nine people were killed as cyclone “Aila”, packing winds of up to 100 km per hour made landfall along Bangladesh’s coastline Monday, officials said.
Several thousands homes were washed away in tidal surges in low-lying coastal areas and on offshore islands in the Bay of Bengal when the cyclone hit in the late afternoon.

“The coast-crossing cyclonic storm ‘Aila’ moved northwards inland, the centre of the storm crossed West Bengal-Khulna (in Bangladesh) coast near Sagar Island of India and lay centred at Kolkata and adjoining area of India, but the remaining part of the storm is still crossing,” said the latest weather bulletin issued at 9 p.m. (1500 GMT) by Bangladesh’s meteorological department

It is likely to move in a northerly direction further inland with seas remaining very rough, added the statement.

Report from the coastal districts said at least nine people died and 72 were missing as the cyclonic storm ripped through the coastal districts and inundated low-lying areas and islands.

The Food and Disaster Management Minister Abdur Razzak confirmed five deaths, without elaborating further. Private television channels reported four more deaths.

Reports say three of the victims were washed away by a water surge in Noakhali district, two killed in a house collapse in Laxmipur and two others killed in Patuakhali, one of whom drowned when a motorboat capsized in Bhola.

Another drowned in floodwater in Barisal district, said a private news agency, United News of Bangladesh.

Twenty passengers also went missing when three motorboats sank in Meghna estuary in the Bhola district. Many coastal areas experienced heavy to very heavy rain and wind speeds of up to 90 km per hour.

Maritime traffic was suspended and Bangladesh’s Meteorological Department asked ports to hoist the danger signal to seven, three levels lower below the highest danger warning.

Authorities also evacuated several thousands of people from their homes.

The districts of Cox’s Bazar, Chittagong, Noakhali, Feni, Laxmipur, Comilla, Chandpur were among the worst-hit coastal areas. Southwestern Khulna district was the worst affected, an official at the district administration said.

“People have rushed to cyclone shelters as their homes washed away,” said Nasir Uddin, a resident of Patharghata sub-district, which was devastated by a powerful cyclone that hit the Bay of Bengal in 2007.

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