Thousands homeless in Bangladesh

A wall of water whipped up by strong winds over the Bay of Bengal has flooded coastal areas in Bangladesh, forcing about 150,000 people to flee their homes, officials said.

The government has asked the main ports of Chittagong and Mongla to issue storm alerts and advised vessels to remain close to the shore and move with caution until further notice.

A storm surge over the past two days has sent waves 1.5 metres high crashing into several towns and villages along the coast of this low-lying nation, but so far there have been no reports of casualties.

The surge breached embankments, washed away homes, flooded roads and knocked down electricity pylons and trees, cutting off several villages and leaving thousands homeless.

In the southern town of Barguna, more than 100,000 people were affected by the surge, which inundated the town with water one metre high, officials said.

Another 50,000 people were stranded by flooding in Cox’s Bazar, 400 kilometres south east of Dhaka, they added.

Weather officials said the storm surge, caused by a tropical cyclone in the Bay of Bengal, was likely to last a few more days.

Sea-brewed storms kill many Bangladeshis almost every year. Around 3,500 people were killed by Cyclone Sidr in November 2007 and hundreds more died when Cyclone Aila hit in 2009.