World

Bangladesh storm kills 3, destroys thousands of homes

A tropical storm lashes southern Bangladesh, killing at least three people and destroying thousands of poorly built homes in some remote islands in the Bay of Bengal.

Some 300,000 people relocate as tropical storm Mora hits impoverished nation

A rickshaw puller carries a passenger during rainy weather in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on Tuesday. (Abir Abdullah/EPA)

A tropical storm lashed southern Bangladesh on Tuesday, killing at least three people and destroying thousands of poorly built homes in some remote islands in the Bay of Bengal, officials said.

Tropical storm Mora started crossing the country's southern coastal region early in the day. Some 300,000 people had been moved to safety or were evacuated on Monday as the delta nation braced for its first strong storm of the year, with more than 1,000 shelters set up in several districts, including Cox's Bazar and Chittagong. More than 20,000 volunteers were on hand.

Cox's Bazar's chief government administrator, Ali Hossain, said two women and a man died in three separate incidents after the storm made landfall. Two of them died after trees fell on their homes, he said.

Some 20,000 homes were destroyed in the vast region, Hossain said.

"We are estimating actual losses, but we don't expect huge casualties," he said.

The storm had weakened by Tuesday afternoon and was expected to be downgraded to a tropical depression, according to the weather office.

The island of St. Martin's was severely affected by the storm, which started hitting the area around midnight Monday.

St. Martin's public representative Nur Ahmed said strong winds flattened many homes on the island. About 8,000 residents moved to storm shelters and hotels.

Many of the 22,000 people on Cox's Bazar's Moheshkahli Island, where 10,000 people died in a cyclone in 1991, moved to shelters.

The storm had maximum sustained winds of 89 km/h and gusts of up to 117 km/h. 

Sri Lankan soldiers unload supplies to be used in relief operations from an Indian Navy ship, in Colombo, on Tuesday. (Eranga Jayawardena/Associated Press)

Sri Lanka swamped

Meanwhile, to the south, tens of thousands remained in relief camps in Sri Lanka after bring driven from their homes by severe flooding and mudslides.

At least 194 people have been killed and nearly 100 are missing after the storm started swamping the southern and western areas of the Indian Ocean island nation last Friday.

Aid teams bolstered by Indian navy divers and doctors pushed forward with rescue efforts on Tuesday as the weather began to clear and water levels started to recede.

But normal road traffic was still not possible, said Predeep Kodipili of the Disaster Management Centre.

The Indian contingent of more than 300 navy personnel was assisting in the relief, with divers searching the brackish waters and medical teams seeing patients in makeshift tents set up at shelters. A third Indian naval ship arrived Tuesday, bringing relief supplies including rice, lentils, sugar, milk and blankets for the displaced.

Sri Lankan army trucks carried drinking water and food to those in need. Helicopters ferried medicine, relief supplies and inflatable boats to remote areas, while small vessels plied the floodwaters in search of people needing rescue.