Bangladesh storm kills 3, destroys thousands of homes

A major cyclone destroyed the large majority of temporary homes set up for Myanmar's Rohingya refugees in east Bangladesh on Tuesday.

Authorities said they evacuated almost 600,000 people from vulnerable areas before the storm hit the coastal district of Cox's Bazar early Tuesday, bringing winds of up to 135 kilometres (84 miles) per hour.

Omar Farukh, from Kutupalong camp, said conditions were dire: 'Now we're in the open air'.

State lawmaker U Oo Than Naing (Arakan National Party, Rathedaung-1) said officials had received word of several buildings destroyed by the cyclone on the western side of the Mayu River. The authorities are trying to evacuate over half a million people from the areas affected by the cyclone.

Anwarul Naser, a senior district official, said several thousand houses had been damaged in the area, a lot of them mud-built structures.

A total of 61 persons have been injured during the storm - 60 in Cox's Bazar and one in Rangamati, added Additional Secretary Mostafa.

All fishing vessels at sea were recalled, and fishermen were advised to keep them anchored.

Great Danger Signal No 10 has also been hoisted in six coastal districts - Cox's Bazar, Chittagong, Noakhali, Lakshmipur, Feni and Chandpur as well as the off-shore islands located in these districts.

The authorities have evacuated more than 300,000 people from different parts of the coastal and low-laying areas of the coastal districts by Monday night ahead of the cyclone. Deputy Commissioner Zillur Rahman Chowdhury has said about 30,000 people have taken up refuge at the hundreds of storm shelters near the coast.

A United Nations official working with Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh told the Reuters news agency that the damage in the camps could not be assessed while the storm was raging.

Twenty people were killed when Cyclone Roanu hit the southern coast in May previous year.

It also warned of strong winds across much of the northeast of the country.

Bangladesh is routinely hit by bad storms between April and December that cause deaths and widespread property damage.

It comes after heavy rains in Sri Lanka caused floods and landslides that killed at least 180 people.

  • Leroy Wright