Cyclone buffets Bangladesh coast, 6 dead
Chittagong, Bangladesh, May 16, 2013
Cyclone Mahasen buffeted Bangladesh's low-lying coast on Thursday, killing six people after forcing many thousands into emergency shelters, but authorities downgraded warnings later in the day as the storm lost strength.
A storm surge did cause some flooding along the coast at high tide and thousands of rickety huts were destroyed by torrential rain and wind, but the devastation was not as bad as had been feared.
Neighbouring Myanmar, where there were fears for the safety of many thousands of internally displaced people living in camps, also appeared to have been largely spared.
The storm was moving northeast, into northeastern India, as it lost strength, meteorological officials said.
"It has now crossed over coastal areas and is a land depression over Bangladesh and adjoining areas of India and will gradually weaken further," Mohammad Shah Alam, the director of the Bangladesh Meteorological Department, told Reuters.
Earlier, winds of up to 100 kph lashed the coast, whipping up big waves as the UN warned that 4.1 million people could be threatened.
A Bangladeshi army official at an control centre set up to help with relief work said six people had been killed.
Media said the death toll was 10, with some people killed by falling trees. About 50 people were injured, media said.
Bangladesh, where storms have in the past killed many thousands of people, has more than 1,400 cyclone-proof buildings and many people moved into them as Mahasen approached.
But across its southeastern border in Myanmar, tens of thousands of people on the coast sheltered in camps and huts made of timber and palm fronds. - Reuters