Indian and Bangladeshi officials warn cyclone Aila could claim more victims from outbreaks of water-borne diseases in its aftermath.
Officials say Bangladesh is already battling a diarrhea outbreak due to an acute drinking water shortage.The cyclone slammed into the coast of Bangladesh and eastern India on Monday, killing more than 200, and dumping heavy rains that flooded villages, burst mud levees, and caused deadly mudslides.
Both countries on Wednesday said the military is aiding local relief efforts. Rescue workers are trying to reach those stranded by the flooding and get urgently needed food and other supplies to those who were forced from their homes.
The Bay of Bengal is frequently battered by storms and cyclones.In 2007, Cyclone Sidr killed more than 3,500 people in Bangladesh and displaced two million others. A year ago, Cyclone Nargis is estimated to have killed nearly 150,000 people in Burma. The secretary-general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Surin Pitsuwan expressed deep condolences to the affected people in both countries.
In separate letters to the Indian and Bangladeshi foreign ministers, he said he was confident that "both countries would be able to cope successfully" with the effects of the disaster.The cyclone hit hard in the Sundarbans -- the world's largest mangrove forest that is home to a population of Bengal tigers. Conservationists have expressed concern for the safety of the animals.
The cyclone came within 50 kilometers of the West Bengal state capital, Kolkata, paralyzing transportation and utility systems.