Tropical Storm Sitrang: 24 dead as cyclone hits Bangladesh

Hundreds of thousands evacuated to cyclone shelters and millions left without power

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At least 24 people are dead after Tropical Storm Sitrang lashed Bangladesh, leaving millions without power, officials said on Tuesday.

Thousands of homes were damaged and more than 6,000 hectares of crops were destroyed, the government said.

Hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated to cyclone shelters as about 20,000 were marooned because of flooding triggered by tidal surges in the southern coastal district of Bhola, the United News of Bangladesh news agency said. Thousands of fishing projects were washed away.

The storm brewed in the Bay of Bengal on Monday before turning north towards Bangladesh. Heavy rain battered the country throughout the day, flooding many costal areas across southern and south-western Bangladesh.

The storm weakened on Tuesday afternoon, with maximum sustained wind speeds of 65 kilometres per hour and wind gusts up to 85kph.

The weather office in capital Dhaka, which had recorded winds up to 88kph on Monday evening, said the danger had passed.

Minhazur Rahman, a government official in Mirsharai in Chattogram, said divers recovered eight bodies on Tuesday after a dredger capsized in the Bay of Bengal on Monday night. The sea remained rough on Tuesday, he said.

Raihan Mehbub, an official in Cumilla district, said two parents and their daughter, 4, died after a tree fell on their home while they were sleeping on Monday night.

At least 13 others died in separate incidents across the country, Dhaka-based Somoy TV reported. Most died after being hit by falling trees, though others died because of collapsing structures or drowning, local media reported.

Nasrul Hamid, junior minister for power and mineral resources, said about 8 million out of a total of 48 million users remained without electricity after falling trees damaged distribution lines or electric poles were knocked over, mostly in rural areas.

He said power distribution across the country would not be back to normal until Wednesday.

Enamur Rahman, junior minister for disaster management and relief, said about 10,000 homes were damaged or destroyed.

Authorities reopened three airports on Tuesday after suspending their operations for 21 hours.

On Monday, the government halted operations of all river vessels and asked fishing boats to return from the deep sea and remain anchored in the Bay of Bengal.

Bangladesh is a delta nation of more than 160 million and is prone to natural disasters such as floods and cyclones.

Climate scientists say climate change is a factor behind many natural disasters in Bangladesh and other South Asian nations.

Updated: October 25, 2022, 2:53 PM