Bangladesh storm kills 3, destroys thousands of homes

A man stands on top of the debris of a house at a landslide site during a rescue mission in Athwelthota village in Kalutara

A man stands on top of the debris of a house at a landslide site during a rescue mission in Athwelthota village in Kalutara

Hours ago the cyclone finally struck and is already damaging a country that grapples with cyclones every year.

Almost 600,000 people were evacuated from vulnerable areas to cyclone shelters, schools and offices before the storm battered the coastal district of Cox's Bazar at the speed of 135 kilometers (84 miles) per hour early Tuesday.

Emergency officials evacuated residents of those cities; about 200,000 were removed from Cox's Bazar and 150,000 from Chittagong, and sent to shelters, school and government offices.

Admiral Sunil Lamba said the Navy deployed one ship off the coast of Bangladesh and a second ship was sent from Visakhapatnam with relief material.

The islands are a few miles from the Myanmar border and the refugee camps for Rohingyas who have fled their homeland.

No casualties have been reported, but Reuters said the cyclone has caused significant damage to refugee camps for Rohingya Muslims.

" 'Heavily pregnant women have been evacuated but most people in areas like Balukhali and Kutupalong makeshift settlements have stayed, ' said the official, who declined to be identified".

Dhaka - Hundreds of poorly built homes have been damaged as a powerful storm pounded the coastal district of Bangladesh on Tuesday, officials said.

"In some places, nearly every shanty home made of tin, bamboo and plastics has been flattened", said Abdul Salam, a Rohingya community leader, adding that around 20,000 houses had been damaged and some residents injured.

Bangladeshi authorities reportedly evacuated around 350,000 people to safety from the local area, which borders Myanmar. Two of them died after trees fell on their homes, he said.

Low-lying areas of Cox's Bazar, Chittagong and many other coastal districts are "likely to be inundated" by a storm surge of 1.2m-1.5m (4-5 feet) above normal levels, the meteorological department warned.

The great danger signal No. 10 has been sounded for all ports in Bangladesh's southeastern Chittagong and Cox's Bazar districts where fishing boats, trawlers and maritime vessels have been advised to remain in shelter till further notice.

As per the bulletin, the cyclone is now centred at 385km south of Chittagong port and 305km from Cox's Bazar port.

Bangladesh was still picking up the pieces after flash floods in April affected millions of people when a cyclone hit.

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