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Friday, June 12, 1998 Published at 09:02 GMT 10:02 UK

World: South Asia

India cyclone death toll rises

The cyclone left a trail of destruction across the state of Gujarat

Official reports suggest up to 900 people have been killed by the cyclone which struck the western Indian state of Gujarat on Tuesday.

BBC Correspondent Andrew Whitehead reports from Kandla
Most of the dead were salt workers near the town of Kandla who were caught in a tidal wave when it swept inshore. Many others were killed or injured by collapsing buildings and walls. More than 1,800 people are reported to have been injured.

As rescue work has gone on and the scale of the devastation has become clear, more and more bodies have been recovered. But many people are still missing.

The armed forces are involved in the relief operation, which has been hampered by blocked roads and severed communications. Water is reported to be in dangerously short supply because pumps have no power.

Pulling out the injured has been the priority of the relief operation.

Relief supplies of food are being distributed and medical teams are working to avert the possibility of any epidemic breaking out in the wake of the tragedy.

Worst cyclone for 25 years

[ image:  ]
The cyclone was the worst to affect the Arabian Sea coast of India for more than 25 years.

Officials in Gujarat say close to 1,000 villages are known to have suffered damage.

The effects of the cyclone were felt in neighbouring areas of Pakistan; in Karachi 15 people were killed.

Reports say most of them were electrocuted by live wires from power lines toppled in the wind.

It brought winds of up to 170 km per hour and left a trail of destruction across the state.

State officials said the intensity of the cyclone has now weakened and it has moved into the neighbouring desert state of Rajasthan.

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