DHAKA, May 26, 2009 (AFP) – Bangladesh and India launched major relief operations Tuesday after a cyclone tore into the northern coast of the Bay of Bengal, killing at least 116 people and leaving hundreds of thousands homeless.
Many of the casualties in Bangladesh were reported to be children who drowned when Cyclone Aila triggered a four-metre (13-foot) surge as it made landfall Monday.
About 430,000 people were marooned, and military and civil defence teams were struggling to deliver food, water and emergency shelters, government officials in Dhaka told AFP.
Bangladesh’s disaster management minister Abdur Razzak said people on remote islands had been worst affected and could not be reached because of rough seas.
“Army helicopters are being deployed to carry food and other supplies until the seas calm,” he said.
The government’s disaster control spokesman, Dalil Uddin, said 81 people in Bangladesh were confirmed dead, including 23 from one village that was swept out to sea after a dam burst.
He said several hundred people had been injured as the storm tore over an area where about three million people live, damaging or destroying 180,000 mud and bamboo homes.
“Hundreds of kilometres (miles)