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Over 600 reported dead in Bangladesh cyclone
Published in Saudi Press Agency on 16 - 11 - 2007

At least 629 people have died in Bangladesh as a result of cyclone Sidr, it was officially stated Friday - with a final toll expected to be far higher, DPA reported.
Disaster manegement office official spokesman Muhammad Mia confirmed the 629 number as that of bodies so far recovered.
The cyclone roared ashore with winds of more than 200 kilometres
per hour, and the death toll was expected to rise further, with
thousands of fishermen reported still missing.
Rescuers had been unable to reach large parts of the affected
areas because of flooding and roads blocked by fallen trees and power
Telephone and electrical services were out, and disaster
management officials were collecting accounts of deaths and damage
from local officials via mobile phones.
The head of Bangladesh's interim government, Fakhruddin Ahmed,
flew into the disaster area along with army commander Moeen Ahmed to
evaluate the situation.
Widespread damage and the destruction of houses were reported
across the coast in a storm whose maximum winds were measured at 240
kilometres per hour.
In the capital, Dhaka, trees were downed and electricity was out.
Sidr lashed Bangladesh's entire coast after making landfall late
Thursday, but has since weakened. Storm surges have decreased from 6
metres to 1 to 1.2 metres, officials said.
Up to 1 million people had been evacuated from coastal villages
ahead of the storm, and airports, seaports and ferry stations in
southern Bangladesh were closed.
Aid workers also used megaphones to warn people in remote fishing
hamlets about the upcoming disaster. The strategy was credited with
saving a large number of lives.
The situation in eastern India was much less severe. Sidr, which
is named after a tree found in Arabian countries, crossed the coast
there overnight without causing much damage and later veered away
from the region where tens of thousands had been evacuated, news
reports said.
The cyclone brought gales and torrential rains and crossed half
the coastline of India's Orissa state, but it did not cause damage in
the state's four districts that were placed on high alert, the PTI
news agency reported, citing Orissa Relief Commissioner NK Sundaray.
Nearly 90,000 people living in coastal areas in India had been
evacuated to safer locations since Wednesday evening - 30,000 of them
in Orissa and more than 60,000 in adjoining West Bengal state, which
borders Bangladesh.
However, there were reports that the cyclone caused some damage to
vegetation in the mangrove forests of Sundarbans straddling West
Bengal and Bangladesh, which is home to fishing communities and the
endangered royal Bengal tiger.
At least 10 houses also collapsed Thursday as storm-whipped waves
in the Bay of Bengal hit a coastal village near south India's Chennai
The waves reached a height of 3 metres and seawater entered nearly
200 houses, causing the evacuation of coastal communities, the NDTV
network reported. Fishing boats and equipment on the beaches were
also damaged, but there were no reports of injuries.
State agencies in Orissa, West Bengal and the territories of the
Andaman and Nicobar islands continued to be on alert as weather
officials said the storm would bring strong winds and heavy rains
until Saturday and was expected to trigger floods in low-lying areas.
The low-lying flatlands of Bangladesh and neighbouring states in
India are among the most flood-prone areas in the world. In 1970,
about half a million people were killed in a cyclone while in 1999, a
supercyclone killed 140,000 people in Bangladesh and killed 10,000
people and left 15 million homeless in Orissa.

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