Hurricane SIDR kills atleast 425, injures thousands in B'desh

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Dhaka, Nov 16 (UNI) At least 425 people were killed, many missing and thousands injured in Bangladesh as a powerful cyclone with all its fury lashed the country's south and southwestern regions.

Rescuers and survivors feared death toll would climb up further with information from remote and inaccesible islands that remained cut off till this evening.

An official of the Food and Disaster Management Ministry so far confirmed the death of 233 people but said they could not get any information from several worst hit districts of Barguna, Pirojpur and Jhalkathi.

The terrible tropical storm code-named Sidr, with a core of hurricane winds packing a speed of up to 240 kph, crossed through Barisal-Khulna belt from the Bay early today, flattening thousands of houses, uprooting trees, snapping telephone and power lines.

Most parts of the country once again plunged into darkness this evening following the outage in the national power grid.

Local residents and private TV channels said more than 100 people were killed and 300 missing in worst hit Bagerhat district, 90 in Patuakhali, 57 in Barguna, 28 in Jhalokathi, 21 in Barisal, 24 in Pirojpur, 18 in Madaripur, 21 in Gopalganj, 20 in Shariatpur and 11 in Khulna and 13 in 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 mostly were caused by blown down trees and house collapses.

Low-lying areas of many coastal districts, even in towns, were inundated as storm surged, whipped by raging winds.

Sundarbans forest official Shohidulla said a colossal damage was done to the 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.

Chief Advisor of interim government Dr Fakhruddin Ahmed and army chief General Moeen U Ahmed visited the worst hit coastal districts by helicopter and ordered local administration to gear up relief operation.

Meanwhile, country's main sea port in southeastern Chittagong resumed functioning from this morning after 36-hour suspension due to the storm.

Life in the capital city started returning to nomal.

UNI

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