At least 10 people have died since the Category 1 Cyclone Mahasen made its landfall in Bangladesh. Hundreds of thousands of people took refuge in shelters on Thursday as Cyclone Mahasen washed the Bangladeshi coast.
Bangladesh continues to assess the extent of the damage, but officials estimate that the cyclone will turn out less severe than originally feared. Still, a water surge during the storm left many low-lying areas and offshore islands inundated.
"A better preparedness ahead of the disaster lessened the loss of lives and property," Disaster Management and Relief Minister Abul Hasan Mahmood Ali said after the tropical storm weakened on its landfall in the southern Patuakhali district.
The storm had been expected to hit heavily populated areas, including parts of Myanmar, which was ultimately spared. Khepupara, on Bangladesh's southern coast, was the first area hit by the storm on Thursday, with the storm moving north towards the ports of Chittagong and Cox's Bazar. The center of the storm is expected to reach the ports early Friday morning.
Tally of damage
In Bangladesh, the cyclone caused serious damage to thatched houses and crops. The cyclone also put two airports, a major seaport and ferry services out of commission for several hours.
Bangladesh set up its early warning system and network of shelters after a storm killed an estimated 138,000 people in 1991. In 2007, a cyclone killed more than 3,000 people and disrupted life for about 5 million.
mkg/jm (AFP, Reuters, dpa, AP)