At least 26 people were killed and an estimated 1,500 fishermen are missing after tropical storms smashed into Bangladesh’s southern coastal islands and districts early on Thursday, police said.
Police said at least 1,500 mud, tin and straw-built houses were also leveled in the storms that swept Bhola, Hatiya and Sandwip islands and coastal districts.
On the worst-hit island of Hatiya, at least seven people were killed after they were buried under their houses or hit by falling trees, local police chief Moktar Hossain said.
“More than 100 fishing trawlers, each carrying at least 10 fishermen, have been missing since the storm,” Hossain said, calling it one of the most powerful storms in decades.
Many fishermen are expected to have taken shelter on other islands in the Bay of Bengal or in the neighboring Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest.
In the past, many fishermen thought to be missing during storms returned home to coastal villages a week or two later.
The police chief of Bhola district, Bashir Ahmed, said more than 500 fishermen were missing from the country’s largest island and at least 500 houses were leveled by the sudden storm.
Bangladesh’s weather office had forecast heavy rain on the coast and advised fishermen to take care near the shore, but had issued no major storm warning.
“We only got warning signal number three. But the storm was so powerful the weather office should have hoisted the signal number seven or eight,” said Ahmed, referring to the intensity of the storm on a scale of one to 10.