CHITTAGONG • Cyclone Roanu struck the Bangladesh coast yesterday, killing at least 20 people and forcing hundreds of thousands more to flee their homes as the storm unleashed strong winds and heavy downpours.
Authorities took more than 500,000 people into shelters as the cyclone made landfall just after noon local time (2pm Singapore time), packing winds as strong as 88kmh.
"It has struck the southern coastal areas of Barisal and Chittagong with a wind speed of 62 to 88 kilometres per hour," said Mr Omar Faruq, a government meterological department official. "The landfall began just after noon. It will take another three to four hours to complete the landfall."
Several villages were inundated on the Banshkhali coast in Chittagong after the cyclone triggered a 1.5m storm surge, the Red Cross's cyclone preparedness official Ruhul Amin said.
"Thousands of villagers were forced to flee their homes after the storm surge flooded their villages," he said.
It came after the peripheral wind of the cyclone struck coastal areas early yesterday, causing widespread devastation across the impoverished region.
Twenty people died and hundreds of mud-and-tin houses were damaged in two southern districts, police said.
"A mother and her young child were killed after a landslide buried their hillside home at Sitakundu in Chittagong. The landslide was caused by heavy rains," said police inspector Shah Alam, adding that another child died in Chittagong city.
Two others were killed in Tajmuddin town on Bhola island in the coastal region while a woman in her 50s died under a flattened house in nearby Patuakhali, police said.
Thousands of people were being evacuated as the cyclone bore down.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS