A man walks past a house destroyed after cyclone Bulbul hit the area in Koyra, Bangladesh. AFP
The death toll from a cyclone that barrelled into the coasts of Bangladesh and India has risen to 24, authorities said on Monday, as the two nations assess the scale of devastation wreaked by the powerful storm.
Bangladesh carried out one of its biggest ever evacuation drives, moving some 2.1 million people to cyclone shelters specially built to minimise casualties from such storms, which can claim thousands of victims.
Men try to clear the debris from their damaged house after Cyclone Bulbul hit the area in Namkhana, India. Reuters
Cyclone Bulbul, packing winds of up to 120 kilometres per hour (75 mph) when it hit late Saturday, killed 12 people in Bangladesh — 11 from falling trees — and 12 in India's West Bengal and Odisha states.
Five others remain missing after a fishing trawler sank in squally weather near Bangladesh's southern island of Bhola, district administrator Masud Alam Siddiqui told the media.
Bangladesh's junior minister for disaster management Enamur Rahman told AFP Bulbul left a trail of destruction, damaging some 10,000 mud, tin and bamboo homes and 200,000 hectares (494,000 acres) of crops.
The cyclone weakened as it tracked inland.
The Sundarbans — the world's largest mangrove forest which straddles the two nations and is home to several endangered species — shielded the coast from the storm's full impact, officials added.
A woman is seen inside her damaged house after Cyclone Bulbul hit the area in Khulna, Bangladesh. Reuters
In India, nearly 120,000 evacuated people were returning home as the cyclone weakened, authorities said. Coastal crops in Odisha were also extensively damaged, officials told the Press Trust of India.
Bangladesh's low-lying coast, home to 30 million people, and India's east are regularly battered by cyclones that have claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in recent decades.
While the storms' frequency and intensity have increased — partly due to climate change — the death tolls have come down because of faster evacuations and the building of thousands of coastal shelters.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi left New Delhi to conduct an aerial survey of the worst-hit areas of West Bengal and Odisha states. It was Modi’s first trip outside the national capital after a coronavirus lockdown was imposed in late March.
Heavy rains have caused widespread flooding in parts of India and Bangladesh, leaving millions stranded and at least 57 dead, officials said on Saturday.
The Meteorological Department has asked local authorities and two ports to raise their highest alert, as the cyclone is expected to unleash a storm surge as high as seven feet (two metres) in coastal districts.
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The Ruler of Sharjah was briefed on the project, which comes within the framework of developing the electricity production sector system and is SEWGA largest investment in the field of energy in the emirate.
After repeated setbacks in the operation, military engineers and skilled miners are working by hand in a painstaking dig through rock and rubble towards the men using a so-called "rat-hole" mining technique to clear the final stretch.