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Thursday, June 18, 1998 Published at 21:11 GMT 22:11 UK

World: South Asia

Cyclone may have killed 3,000

Shanty towns were ripped apart

Revised figures show that almost 3,000 people may have been killed in the cyclone that ripped through western India.

The BBC's South Asia correspondent Mike Woodldridge: "death toll extremely uncertain"
Officials in the western state of Gujarat sharply increased their estimate after taking into consideration the number of people still unaccounted for, one week after the cyclone.

They say 1,126 are dead but have revised the number of missing people from 250 to 1,750.

Many of the missing are migrant workers employed in the salt mining industry and living in the shanty towns which bore the brunt of the storm.

[ image: Bodies were cremated]
Bodies were cremated
But up to 10,000 people are believed to have been employed in the salt mining industry and only about 2,000 have reported back to their homes states.

Aid workers, who are also tackling disease among survivors, fear the final death toll could go even higher.

Gujarat State spokesman J.M. Dave said many bodies swept away by tidal surges may never be recovered.

About 2,000 of the dead and missing were salt workers. The rest were mainly fishermen, port workers and labourers.

Torrential rains accompanied by winds of up to 120kph (75mph) flattened shanty towns, uprooted electric poles and flooded highways when the cyclone hit on June 9.

Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee visited the region on Wednesday and promised help for the Gujarat government.

The US government has authorised aid of $25,000 for the Prime Minister's Relief Fund to help cyclone victims.

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