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Tropical storm kills 23 in southeast Bangladesh

By Farid Ahmed, for CNN
October 12, 2012 -- Updated 1313 GMT (2113 HKT)
A Bangladeshi resident walks over the destroyed roof of a building on Bhola island on Thursday.
A Bangladeshi resident walks over the destroyed roof of a building on Bhola island on Thursday.
  • The tropical storm pounded coastal areas Thursday
  • More than 1,000 fishermen who were at see are still missing, officials say
  • Thousands of homeless people took refuge at schools and cyclone shelters, officials said

Dhaka, Bangladesh (CNN) -- A violent tropical storm pounded coastal districts in southeast Bangladesh Thursday, killing at least 23 people, police and local administrators said.

More than 1,000 fishermen who were fishing in the deep sea were still missing, the officials said.

Communications have been severely disrupted in the districts.

Small islands of southeast Noakhali district, some 200 kilometers from capital, Dhaka, were the worst affected areas, and at least 16 people were killed there, a district administrative chief, Mohammad Sirajul Islam, told CNN.

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Local administrators and the meteorological department said the storm ripped through at least three coastal districts, damaging hundreds of houses, most of them made of wood and tin, and uprooting thousands of trees.

Thousands of homeless people took refuge at schools and cyclone shelters, officials said.

The storm also devastated crops, mostly rice, in a vast swath of land, officials said.

Mustafizur Rahman, the administrative chief of Bhola, another affected district, said people there had recovered three bodies and many of the missing fishermen had started returning from the sea.

"We're immediately giving food relief to the homeless people," he told CNN.

The state-controlled news agency Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha reported that four more people were killed in Sandwip and Mirsarai of southeast Chittagong district.

The fishermen complained that the local administrators had failed to take precautionary steps, leading to the deaths and property damage.

The weather office forecast heavy rain in the coastal areas and advised the fishermen to stay close to safety, but there was no warning for a major storm.

Hours of incessant rain inundated many low-lying areas, officials said.

More on Bangladesh: Muslims torch Buddhist shrines, police say

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