Cyclone Aila
© Associated PressPedestrians walk over an uprooted tree in Calcutta, India, Monday, May 25, 2009. At least two people were killed and authorities evacuated thousands of others in eastern India as a cyclone stormed toward the region Monday. Cyclone Aila caused heavy rains and strong winds to lash Calcutta, capital of West Bengal state
Nearly 120 people have been killed by a cyclone that ripped through Bangladesh and eastern India, officials and local media said on Tuesday, while millions remained marooned by floodwaters or living in shelters.

The death toll in Bangladesh rose to at least 89 following recovery of more bodies on Tuesday, the Daily Star newspaper said in its online edition, while Indian officials said at least 29 people had died in West Bengal state.

Cyclone Aila slammed into parts of coastal Bangladesh and eastern India on Monday, triggering tidal surges and flooding that forced half a million people from their homes.

Officials in Bangladesh moved about 500,000 people to temporary shelters after they left their homes to escape huge tidal waves churned by winds up to 100 kph (60 mph).

Heavy rain triggered by the storm also raised river levels and burst mud embankments in the Sundarbans delta in the neighboring eastern Indian state of West Bengal.

The affected area is home to hundreds of thousands of people as well as the world's biggest tiger reserve.

In Bangladesh, the worst affected area was the Satkhira district, near the port of Mongla, where a local official said 17 bodies were found in one village.

"The situation here is alarming, and the confirmed death toll so far in the district is 23. But it may go up," Mohammad Abdus Samad, deputy commissioner of Satkhira, told Reuters by telephone.

Aila swept many areas still recovering from Cyclone Sidr in November 2007, which killed 3,500 people in Bangladesh and made at least a million homeless.


Bangladesh officials said at least 100 people were missing after Monday's cyclone.

Some aid workers, requesting not to be identified, said they feared several hundred people might have been killed by Aila, which followed a less lethal cyclone, Bijli, that killed only a few people in April.

Army, navy and coast guards were helping civil officials and volunteers to search for the missing and pick up people marooned in hundreds of villages, caught in chest or shoulder-high waters, witnesses said.

In West Bengal, the Indian army and government aid workers on Tuesday began an operation to provide relief to more than 400,000 people marooned in the Sundarbans delta region.

Officials in West Bengal said at least 29 people died in the cyclone, mostly from house collapses, electrocution and falling trees.

"We have moved two columns, each with 100 personnel, to Sundarbans for relief," said Mahesh Upasani, a defense spokesman.

Large areas of crops were destroyed in both countries by the cyclone, officials said, adding they were assessing the damage.

Cargo handling at Paradeep port in India's eastern state of Orissa returned to normal after being severely affected for the past two days, K.Raghuramaiah, chairman of Paradeep Port Trust, told Reuters.

Many farmers have lost their rice just ready to be harvested. "Allah has taken it (rice and other crops) all from me. I have been made a pauper," said Mohar Ali, a farmer.