Page last updated at 17:37 GMT, Tuesday, 26 May 2009 18:37 UK

Scores are killed by Cyclone Aila


The devastation left by Cyclone Aila

More than 155 people have been killed by Cyclone Aila which hit Bangladesh and the eastern Indian state of West Bengal, relief officials say.

They say that at least 500,000 people have been made homeless by the storm.

Soldiers and border guards have joined relief efforts, but they are yet to reach some of the devastated areas.

Officials say the storm has weakened and is heading north, but heavy rains continue to damage crops and cause floods and landslides in many areas.

Salt fears

Cyclone Aila made landfall in south-western Bangladesh on Monday afternoon. Coastal areas were flooded and uprooted trees caused chaos in Calcutta.

River banks and mud houses in Bangladesh have been completely destroyed, and crops and fisheries have also been damaged.

Displaced Indian villagers
Many are still waiting for relief supplies to arrive

Correspondents say that the fear in Bangladesh - where 91 people have been confirmed killed - is that salt water from a tidal surge that followed the cyclone will contaminate non-saline surface water which is crucial for farming.

Bangladeshi Minister for Disaster Management, Abdur Razzak, told the BBC Bengali service that relief teams were still struggling to reach some of the worst-affected areas in the south of the country and he feared casualty numbers would rise.

Meanwhile wildlife experts say they are concerned about the fate of nearly 500 tigers living in reserves in the affected area.

'Eye of the storm'

West Bengal state's Disaster Management Minister, Mortaza Hossain, told the BBC: "We have rescued more than 100,000 people and sent them to safer places. We are now arranging dry food packets and drinking water pouches for them."

A woman walks through the flooded village of Minakhan, 50 km south-east of Kolkata on May 26, 2009.
Some 100,000 people have been evacuated to safer places

Fierce winds, measuring 100km/h (65mph), ravaged parts of Calcutta and adjoining districts. "We were in the eye of the storm," Mr Hossain said.

The army and border guards were called out to rescue people and help provide relief in eight districts of the state hit by the cyclone, he said.

Calcutta police chief Gautam Moham Chakrabarty said teams from the municipal corporation were working to clear roads blocked by uprooted trees.

Calcutta metro and train services were suspended after water flooded tracks in many places.

Massive tidal waves ravaged scores of coastal villages and the seaside resorts of Digha, Mandarmoni and Kanthi throughout Monday.

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Globe and Mail Cyclone Aila toll up to 191 in India, Bangladesh - 22 hrs ago
France24 SOUTH ASIA: India, Bangladesh launch relief efforts after deadly cyclone - 41 hrs ago
Bangkok Post More than 120 dead after cyclone hits Bangladesh, India - 42 hrs ago
Sydney Morning Herald Cyclone Aila leaves more than 120 dead - 44 hrs ago
Mail & Guardian Online Scores dead after cyclone hits Bangladesh, India - 54 hrs ago

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