More than a quarter million people affected by Cyclone Mora, says minister

All flights in and out of Chittagong's Shah Amanat International Airport were also cancelled.

(Vatican Radio) A severe cyclone heavy rains and gusty winds lashed southeastern Bangladesh on Tuesday, destroying hundreds of poorly built homes in some remote islands in the Bay of Bengal, officials said.

Rohingya refugees fleeing persecution in neighboring Myanmar were the hardest hit by the storm, Julie reports.

Rohingya community leader Shamsul Alam said "most of the temporary houses in the camps have been flattened".

Meanwhile, authorities have evacuated more than 300,000 Bangladeshi citizens to cyclone shelters after raising a level-10 weather danger alert - the highest level - as the storm approached.

Road Transport Minister Obaidul Quader told the media in Dhaka that around 20,000 houses were damaged.

The Cox's Bazar district's disaster management office said that more than 200,000 people were moved to the 538 cyclone shelters.

The shelter areas included schools and other safe buildings in 17 coastal districts.

Under the influence of the cyclonic storm, low-lying areas of the coastal districts and their offshore islands were likely to be inundated by a storm surge four- or five-feet high above normal astronomical tide, the BMD said.

Around 33,000 Rohingya refugees, who live in two camps in Bangladesh bordering Myanmar in the southeast where the cyclone had made landfall, were among the worst affected.

"Cyclone Mora will cause damages mostly in Bangladesh, but damages also expected in North Eastern states". Last year, at least 24 people were killed after Cyclone Roanu hit coastal Bangladesh.

The cyclone formed after monsoon rains triggered floods and landslides in Sri Lanka, off India's southern tip, killing at least 180 people in recent days.

Many Bangladesh coasts have been battered by ferocious winds with speed up to 135 kph, which uprooted trees and homes, ripped roofs off buildings and caused widespread power and water outages.

" 'The winds are strong and people there live in flimsy structures, so we're anxious'".

  • Leroy Wright