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Bangladesh: At least 16 dead and eight missing as Cyclone Sitrang hits

Fourteen people died, most of them victims of falling trees, and two others in the sinking of a boat on the Jamuna river, in the north of the country, Jebun Nahar, a government official, told AFP.

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Bangladesh: At least 16 dead and eight missing as Cyclone Sitrang hits

Fourteen people died, most of them victims of falling trees, and two others in the sinking of a boat on the Jamuna river, in the north of the country, Jebun Nahar, a government official, told AFP.

"We have not yet received all the reports on the damage" caused by the cyclone, she said.

Eight people are missing in the Bay of Bengal, regional fire department chief Abdullah Pasha told AFP. According to the latter, they were on board a dredging boat which sank during the storm, late in the night from Monday to Tuesday, near the industrial park of Mirsarai, the largest in the country.

“A strong wind overturned the dredge and she sank instantly in the Bay of Bengal,” he continued, adding that divers were searching for possible survivors.

Cyclone Sitrang hit southern Bhola Island at 9:00 p.m. Monday (1500 GMT) before weakening early on Tuesday and moving towards northeast Meghalaya state. India, Bazlur Rashid, a meteorological official, told AFP.

Meteorological service officials feared the cyclone could cause a storm surge three meters high. However, this risk did not materialize.

- Schools closed -

In the most affected region of Barisal, heavy rains and winds have devastated many vegetable crops, regional district administrator Aminul Ahsan told AFP.

Schools have been closed across the south and southwest of the country.

Trees were uprooted even in the capital Dhaka, yet located hundreds of kilometers from the storm.

As of Monday, "about a million people" from the lowlands, islands and riverbank areas had been evacuated and settled in thousands of shelters in apartment buildings where they spent the night, the agency said. AFP the secretary of the Ministry of Disaster Management, Kamrul Ahsan. By Tuesday morning, many were returning home, he added.

Authorities said they sometimes had to persuade reluctant villagers to leave their homes.

- 10 million inhabitants without electricity -

Some 10 million people had been without power in the country's 15 coastal districts since Monday, an electricity division official said.

In the island of Maheshkhali, in southern Bangladesh, the cyclone uprooted many trees and also caused power and telecommunications cuts.

"The wind was so strong that we couldn't sleep last night for fear that our homes would be destroyed," Tahmidul Islam, 25, a resident of Maheshkhali, said on Tuesday.

"Snakes entered many houses", many were flooded, added the young man.

About 33,000 Rohingya refugees on the storm-prone island of Bhashan Char in the Bay of Bengal have been ordered not to go out and no casualties or damage have been reported there, authorities said.

Bangladesh, a country of about 170 million inhabitants, is ranked among the countries most affected by extreme weather events since the beginning of the century, according to the UN.

In the neighboring Indian state of West Bengal, thousands of people were evacuated to around 100 relief centers on Monday, officials said, adding that no damage had been reported and people were returning home on Tuesday.

Global warming is likely to make cyclones more intense and more frequent in South Asian countries bordering the Bay of Bengal, scientists say, but evacuation procedures have also greatly improved thanks to forecasts. more precise.

Last year, more than a million people were evacuated along India's east coast before Cyclone Yaas slammed into the region with wind gusts of 155 km/h, equivalent to a Category 2 hurricane.

In 2020, Cyclone Amphan, the second "super cyclone" ever recorded in the Bay of Bengal, caused more than 100 deaths in Bangladesh and India and several million victims.

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