"There are people marooned in the low-lying areas," disaster official says
500,000 people have been evacuated
One day after Tropical Cyclone Roanu lashed the coast of Bangladesh with heavy winds and rain, killing at least 21 people and displacing half a million residents, some evacuees are cautiously returning home from shelters.
Dalil Uddin, a disaster management official in Dhaka, told CNN on Sunday that rescuers found three more bodies in Chittagong. He said uprooted trees, damaged houses and landslides caused deaths.
Roanu packed a wallop as it made landfall Saturday, battering the south and southeast regions of Barisal and Chittagong especially hard – damaging hundreds of houses and causing landslides, disaster officials said.
Many areas remain inundated after downpours of more than a foot in some areas Saturday. Winds reached 55 miles per hour (88 kilometers per hour)
But some residents and businesses started regrouping on Sunday, and some evacuees were cautiously returning home from shelters.
Three airports, one international in Chittagong and two domestic in Cox’s Bazar and Barisal, started functioning on Sunday.
The Chittagong seaport, the country’s largest, came to a complete halt on Saturday. But it started functioning on Sunday, the control room official said.
“Everything has become almost normal, but still there are people marooned in the low-lying areas inundated after the tropical cyclone hit the areas,” Uddin said.
Roanu made landfall Saturday and began to weaken as it roared over Bangladesh, according to CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar.
In the days before it touched down, the cyclone dumped 9 to 13 inches of rain in parts of Bangladesh and more than 18 inches in Kakinada, India, more than 800 miles away.
Parts of Bangladesh could see additional accumulations ranging from 2 to 6 inches, according to Chinchar.
Vast swaths of land in coastal cities were inundated and some 500,000 people were evacuated to shelters, Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury, minister of disaster management and relief, told reporters.
The storm disrupted power and road communications in many parts of the country, officials said.
Its sea level geography and location have conspired to make Bangladesh vulnerable to cyclones.
In 1991, a cyclone killed at least 140,000 people, according to the United Nations.
In 1970, Cyclone Bhola struck Bangladesh, then East Pakistan, killing 500,000 people. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration called the storm the 20th century’s “greatest tropical system disaster.”
Since then, improved warning systems and shelters have helped reduce the number of deaths during more recent storms.
CNN’s Ray Sanchez contributed to this report.