500,000 Homeless in Bangladesh

DHAKA (Reuters) – Nearly half a million Bangladeshis were homeless on Saturday after three days of storms which killed at least 15 people and left 50 missing, officials and local media said on Saturday.

Two hundred fishermen were originally reported missing in the Bay of Bengal on Thursday, but 150 had returned to shore by Friday.

Storms originating at sea kill many Bangladeshis nearly every year. Some 3,500 people were killed by Cyclone Sidr in November 2007 and hundreds more died when Cyclone Aila hit in 2009.

Coastal areas, home to more than 15 million people, many living in huts made of bamboo and straw, repeatedly battered by five-foot (1.5-meter) waves, flooding towns and villages.

The storms also dumped up to 300 mm (12 inches) of rain, causing flash floods.

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