Cyclone Bulbul has ripped through coastal areas of Bangladesh and India, killing at least 22 people while more than two million others were forced to spend a night in storm shelters.
The cyclone packed winds of up to 120 kilometres (75 miles) per hour when it hit late Saturday, closing ports and airports in both countries.
Ayesha Akter, an emergency official in Bangladesh, confirmed 12 people had died in the storm, adding that she feared the death toll will rise until Monday morning.
According to Bangladesh’s Health Directorate report casualties have been reported from eight districts in the country’s southern coastline. Some 226,000 people have been affected by the cyclone and large swathes of cultivable land inundated, the country’s Disaster Management and Relief Ministry said.
There are increasing concerns after two fishing boats carrying more than 30 men failed to return, an official in Bangladesh’s Bhola district said.
Around 1,200 tourists, most of them Bangladeshi, were stuck on St Martin’s Island, part of Cox’s Bazar district, an official told the Reuters news agency.
Bangladesh’s two biggest ports, Mongla and Chittagong, were closed and flights into Chittagong airport were stopped.
In coastal Khulna, the worst-hit district in Bangladesh, trees swayed violently and were ripped from the ground in the fierce storms, blocking roads and hampering access to the area.
Troops were sent to coastal districts while tens of thousands of volunteers went door-to-door and used loudspeakers to urge people to evacuate their villages.
Meanwhile, at least 10 people were killed in eastern Indian state of West Bengal, news agency Press Trust of India reported citing officials.
Close to 150,000 people have been evacuated from West Bengal’s low-lying coastal areas, local media reported. Moreover, some 60,000 people were evacuated from their homes while flights in and out of Kolkata airport were suspended for 12 hours.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also spoke to West Bengal’s Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee to discuss the situation in the state.
“Reviewed the situation in the wake of cyclone conditions and heavy rain in parts of Eastern India. Spoke to WB CM [chief minister of West Bengal] regarding the situation arising due to Cyclone Bulbul. Assured all possible assistance from the Centre. I pray for everyone’s safety and well-being,” Modi wrote on Twitter.
The prime minister also reviewed the situation in Orissa state, where the cyclone has caused massive damage to crops and property.
According to a Home Affairs Ministry circular, 17 disaster management teams were deployed in West Bengal, while six others were active in Odisha for dealing with contingencies.