Cyclone death toll rises to 168 in India, Bangladesh

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Cyclone death toll rises to 168 in India, Bangladesh



Kolkata: The death toll from Cyclone Aila in eastern India and Bangladesh rose to at least 168 on Wednesday, officials said, while heavy rains after the storm caused deadly mudslides and slowed rescue efforts.
The toll was expected to rise in both countries as rescue workers reached cut-off areas.
The cyclone destroyed thousands of homes and stranded tens of thousands of people in flooded villages before it began to ease Tuesday.
But mudslides in Darjeeling tea district killed at least 20 people overnight, said P Zimba, a local government official.
The official death toll in India stood at 68 by Wednesday, said Ashok Mohan Chakraborty, a senior official in worst-hit West Bengal state.



Bangladesh's Food and Disaster Management Ministry said the toll there was 100 after more bodies were found. Most victims drowned or were washed away when storm surges hit coastal areas.
Soldiers have been deployed to take food, water and medicine to tens of thousands of people stranded in flooded villages, Bangladeshi Minister Abdur Razzak told reporters Wednesday.
Chakraborty said at least 50 people had been rescued from rooftops in the Sundarbans, a tangle of mangrove forests that is home to one of the world's largest tiger populations.
Conservationists expressed concern over the tigers' fate.
At least one tiger from the flooded reserve took refuge in a house. Forest guards tranquilized it and were planning to release it once the waters subside, said Belinda Wright of the Wildlife Protection Society of India, which assisted in the operation.
It is believed about 250 tigers live on the Indian side of the Sundarbans and another 250 live on the Bangladeshi side.
Conservationists said water levels were too high for ecologists and forest officials to enter the area and assess the damage.
Cyclone death toll rises to 168 in India, Bangladesh
 

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Aila swallows Sunderbans tigers

Prithvijit Mitra & Monotosh Chakraborty | TNN



Kolkata: It’s not just residents of Kolkata who bore the brunt of Cyclone Aila. Forest wardens fear that as the twister tore through the Sunderbans, it may have killed more than a dozen of the highly endangered Bengal tigers as the mangrove forests flooded.
As the human toll from Monday’s cyclone rose to 64, beat officers and range officials in the Sunderbans feared hundreds of herbivores and at least a dozen tigers might have been swept away by the giant waves that lashed the forests. While a tiger had sneaked into the Jamespur village wading through the flood waters and was tranquillized early on Tuesday morning, 20 crocodiles and two spotted deer were found dead.
The full extent of the damage will be known only after an assessment by forest teams. As per the last census, the Sunderbans has 265 tigers.
Pintu Mirdha of Jamespur had the shock of his life when he spotted a male tiger crouching in his waterlogged cowshed. Mirdha managed to shut the cowshed door and informed the forest department. But forest guards had to wait for the water to recede to get close to the animal. Neighbours were asked to evacuate as the animal paced up and down the locked cowshed. At around 1 pm, when the water went down during low tide, the male tiger was tranquillized.
“It swam into the village that was left flooded after the cyclone. Since most villagers were away from their submerged huts, none noticed the animal,’’ said Subrat Mukherjee, field director, Sunderban Tiger Reserve.
“A storm like this has never hit the Sunderbans in the last three decades. Going by the extent of damage to the villages, the state of the forest could be terrible. Forests remained under eight feet of water till late Tuesday afternoon. Immediately after Aila hit, it had gone up to 20 feet,’’ said Mrinal Chattopadhyay of the Institute of Climbers and Nature Lovers.
“Even if tigers manage to swim to higher grounds, deer and wild boars may have been swept away,’’ he said. Wardens fear that even if tigers survived the giant waves, the lack of prey will certainly kill them.
But some forest officials were cautious. “We shall study the damage once the water level recedes,’’ said Subhendu Bandopadhyay, divisional forest officer, South 24-Parganas.
Beat wardens, however, said no assessment would be possible until the waters recede and that could take weeks. By that time many of the carcasses would have disintegrated to nothing.

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Vinod2070

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I am not sure why we did not get any advanced warning of this cyclone.

Don't we have any mechanism in place for cyclone warnings? Especially on the Eastern coast where these are quite frequent.
 

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