Over 200 feared killed in Bangladesh cyclone


Dhaka : Over 200 people were feared killed and the death toll could rise as Cyclone Sidr hit Bangladesh’s southern coastal areas Thursday and continued to move northward Friday.

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The southern divisions of Khulna and Barisal were the worst-hit, initial media reports said Friday.

Capital Dhaka was lashed by heavy rain accompanied by strong winds Friday morning, bringing life to a standstill.

Chief Advisor Fakhruddin Ahmed held an emergency meeting and was scheduled to visit Barguna district in Barisal division, one of the worst affected areas, later Friday, official news agency Bangladesh Sangbad Sanstha (BSS) reported.

The government had evacuated over 600,000 people from the costal areas over the last two days.

While Dhaka’s Zia International Airport was open Friday, operations at Chittagong port and airport, Mongla port and other southern ports have been suspended.

Bangladesh Navy earlier moved seven of its ships out of the danger area. It is now joining Bangladesh Red Crescent and other organisations in relief work.

Sidr is considered one of the most severe cyclones in recent years.

Xinhua adds: Bangladesh’s coasts have been hit by over 80 cyclones in the past 131 years, killing about two million people and making many more millions homeless, meteorologists said.

On Nov 1, 1876, the “Great Bakerganj Storm” hit southern Barisal region at a speed of 220 kmph, killing about 200,000 people. It was considered “a great human disaster” as the country’s population was scanty compared to today’s 140 million.

According to Sajedur Rahman, former director of Bangladesh Meteorological Department, the cyclones brewed in the Bay of Bengal usually hit Bangladesh in April-May and October-December.

A cyclone with a speed of 222 kmph ravaged the coastal districts of Barisal, Patuakhali, Noakhali and Bhola, washing away about one million people under 10-metre-high waves on Nov 12, 1970. It has since been remembered as the “Fearful November 12”.

About 11,000 people were killed in 1985 in a powerful cyclone. On April 29, 1991, a 225-kmph-cyclone swept through southeastern Chittagong and killed over 140,000 people.

Coastal Chittagong against suffered the brunt on Nov 29, 1997, when a cyclone with 224 kmph wind speed killed about 150,000.