Dhaka, Nov 16: At least 258 people have been killed and thousands injured by hurricane SIDR that lashed south and southwestern Bangladesh overnight causing widespread destruction in the country.
Rescuers said the casualty figure will go up further with the news of death and destruction coming from remote islands that remained cut-off till this afternoon.
The terrible tropical storm code-named SIDR with a core of hurricane winds, packing a speed of up to 240 kmph, crossed through Barisal-Khulna belt from the Bay early today, flattening thousands of houses, uprooting trees, snapping telephone and power lines.
Preliminary reports reaching from coastal districts said at least 57 people were killed in Barguna, 61 people in Patuakhali, 30 in Bagerhat, 21 in Barisal, 18 each in Madaripur and Gopalganj, 13 in Shariatpur and 11 each in Khulna, Pirojpur and Bhola.
In Bagerhat, the fate of more than 5,000 people mostly fishermen in remote island of Dublarchar could not be known as local administration failed to contact them. A team of the coastguard from Mongla seaport set out for the offshore island in the morning.
The deaths were mostly caused by blown down trees and house collapses.
Low-lying areas of many coastal districts, even in towns, were inundated as storm surge whipped by raging winds.
Sundarbans forest official Mr Shohidulla said a colossal damage was done to the Sundabans mangrove forest by the ''first hit'' by the hurricane core of the powerful cyclone. ''Our offices were damaged, boats capsized or washed away,'' he said.
Reuters adds that more than 100 fishing boats in the Bay of Bengal had failed to return to shore despite repeated storm warnings given over the radio.
Sixteen Bangladeshi fishermen went missing after their fishing boat sank in Cox's Bazar, a resort town some 400 km southeast of Dhaka, a local fishing association said.
Rescued fishermen from Myanmar told Bangladeshi officials that 12 of their compatriots had drowned at sea. They were among a group of fishermen aboard four fishing boats which were smashed into shore by the cyclone.
The latest cyclone triggered 5-metre high water surges in many of the affected districts.