More than 500 people are now reported dead after a severe cyclone battered parts of Bangladesh. Local officials and Red Crescent workers said 508 deaths had already been confirmed. The casualty toll could rise further. UN officials say 1,000 fishermen are missing.
The Category 4 cyclone flattened villages, destroying homes and forcing hundreds of thousands of people to flee. It struck overnight, packing winds of 250 kilometres per hour but weakened early today as it reached the capital, Dhaka.
The worst of the damage was done on Bangladesh’s southern coast. An international relief effort is underway to help local authorities cope with the disaster. Rescue workers have distributed food, medicine and blankets. Storms hit the poor south Asian country every year. A cyclone in 1970 killed more than half a million people.