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24 Killed as Cyclone Roanu Hits Bangladesh, Lakhs Evacuated

Bangladeshi men pull a loaded cart through a waterlogged street after heavy rainfall in Dhaka. (AP)

Bangladeshi men pull a loaded cart through a waterlogged street after heavy rainfall in Dhaka. (AP)

Dhaka: At least 24 people have been killed and over 100 others injured as cyclone Roanu battered Bangladesh's southern coast, triggering landslides, prompting authorities to evacuate about five lakh people.

With a wind speed of up to 88 kilometres per hour, the cyclone hit the Barisal-Chittagong region, sending impacts across the country. Most places witnessed rain and thunder showers accompanied by temporary gusty and squally wind on Saturday morning.

"The death toll now stands at 24 with four more casualties reported overnight," Bangladesh's Disaster Management department's Director General Reaz Ahmed said.

11 people including minor children were killed in the northwestern port city of Chittagong, which appeared to have suffered the worst in the cyclone, Ahmed said.

The southwestern Bhola, northwestern Noakhali and Cox's Bazar coastal districts witnessed three deaths while the storm damaged 85,000 homesteads and business structures along the coastlines, he said.

Several of the victims drowned in inflated waters caused by surges while landslides, collapse of houses and uprooted trees killed others, officials said.

"The officer in charge of Banskhali (of Chittagong) police station reported that seven people were killed there alone... they were victims of drowning or landslides," a police officer stationed in the port city said.

A disaster management ministry spokesman said some 500,000 people were evacuated to cyclone shelters though preparations have done to secure some 21,00,000 people.

Meteorologists said the cyclone first hit the southwestern coast and then proceeded towards the southeast turning the sea very rough.

The Shah Amanat International Airport, Chittagong suspended all of its flight operations due to Roanu. Experts said the casualty figures appeared less than it hit the coastlines in day time while the government ordered a massive evacuation campaign after the MeT office on Saturday turned its "local warning signals" to "danger signals" for all its four seaports, covering the entire coastlines.

The main port of Chittagong, earlier, internally issued a "red alert" ordering ships to immediately leave the port and anchor in the outer anchorage for the safety of the facility and asked the lighterages to take shelter in river banks inside the mainland.

Bangladesh is vulnerable to cyclones because of its location at the triangular shaped head of the Bay of Bengal, the sea-level geography of its coastal area and its high population density while two deadliest cyclones occurred in 1970 and 1991 claimed some 500,000 and almost 14,0000 lives respectively.

first published:May 22, 2016, 13:11 IST