Cyclone hammers Bangladesh; 24 killed

Rescue workers search for survivors after Cyclone Roanu hit Chittagong

Story highlights

  • "There are people marooned in the low-lying areas," disaster official says
  • 500,000 people have been evacuated

(CNN)The death toll in Tropical Cyclone Roanu has reached 24 as rescuers scrambled Sunday to help those stranded, evacuated and battered by punishing winds and rain.

Dalil Uddin, a disaster management official in Dhaka, told CNN on Sunday that rescuers found three more bodies in Chittagong. He said uprooted trees, damaged houses and landslides caused deaths.
    Roanu packed a wallop as it made landfall Saturday, battering the south and southeast regions of Barisal and Chittagong especially hard -- damaging hundreds of houses and causing landslides, disaster officials said.

    Massive deluge

    Many areas remain inundated after downpours of more than a foot in some areas Saturday. Winds reached 55 miles per hour (88 kilometers per hour)
    But some residents and businesses started regrouping on Sunday, and some evacuees were cautiously returning home from shelters.
    Three airports, one international in Chittagong and two domestic in Cox's Bazar and Barisal, started functioning on Sunday.
    The Chittagong seaport, the country's largest, came to a complete halt on Saturday. But it started functioning on Sunday, the control room official said.
    "Everything has become almost normal, but still there are people marooned in the low-lying areas inundated after the tropical cyclone hit the areas," Uddin said.

    500,000 evacuated

    Roanu made landfall Saturday and began to weaken as it roared over Bangladesh, CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar said.
    In the days before it touched down, the cyclone dumped 9 to 13 inches of rain in parts of Bangladesh and more than 18 inches in Kakinada, India, more than 800 miles away.
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    Parts of Bangladesh could see additional rainfall ranging from 2 to 6 inches, according to Chinchar.
    Vast swaths of land in coastal cities were inundated and some 500,000 people were evacuated to shelters, Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury, minister of disaster management and relief, told reporters.
    The storm disrupted power and road communications in many parts of the country, officials said.
    Bangladesh is vulnerable to cyclones due to its sea-level geography and location.
    In 1991, a cyclone killed at least 140,000 people, according to the United Nations.
    In 1970, Cyclone Bhola struck Bangladesh, then East Pakistan, killing 500,000 people. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration called the storm the 20th century's "greatest tropical system disaster."
    Since then, improved warning systems and shelters have helped reduce the number of deaths during more recent storms.