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Bangladeshi toll hits 66

AUTHORITIES in Bangladesh sent emergency supplies to the north yesterday as the total number of those killed from a violent storm rose to 66.

Bodies were recovered from ponds, rice fields and ruined homes, and survivors buried the dead and tended injured. In several villages, mass prayers were held for the victims.

"Village after village is lying in ruins. People are still in trauma. Only the brave are trying to rebuild their lives," said Prasanta Kumar Das, a local official in Netrokona, a town in the north near areas that bore the brunt of the storm on Wednesday night.

The death toll was expected to rise further as many of about 2,000 people injured in the storm were still in critical condition, officials and witnesses said.

Hospitals were crammed with hundreds of people seeking treatment for injuries caused by flying debris.

Many were hit by corrugated tin ripped off roofs; others broke legs or hands or were found half buried in swampy rice fields, witnesses said.

"We are facing an uphill battle trying to reach all the victims and getting aid to them. There is a lot of work ahead of us," Nurul Islam, an aid worker, said from Netrokona.

Officials said tens of thousands of people were made homeless when the tornado-speed winds tore through at least 20 villages in Mymensingh and Netrokona districts.

Officials supervising rescue and relief efforts said the scale of destruction suggested the wind speed could have been more than 250 kph and the Dhaka meteorology office said the storm was probably a tornado.


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