September 22, 2005

Nearly 400 found alive in South Asia storm

HYDERABAD, India (Reuters) - Nearly 400 people who had been
listed as missing in a storm off the southern coast of India
were found alive after they took shelter on rooftops, trucks
and buses, officials said on Thursday.

But there were still scores missing, and survivors in
neighboring Bangladesh, which was also hit by the storm in the
Bay of Bengal on Monday, spoke of bodies floating in the sea.

At least 66 people have been killed so far, authorities in
the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh said, after the storm
brought heavy rains, strong winds and flooding in the coastal

An Andhra Pradesh government official said flood waters had
since receded, allowing rescuers to reach the remote villages.
"We have been able to move into villages and rescue people
listed as missing," state official Navin Mittal said.

But a fisherman who survived the storm in low-lying
Bangladesh said many others were not so lucky.

"I was lucky to come back. While returning to shore I saw
several wrecked boats and bodies floating on the rough sea,"
Idris Ali told reporters late on Wednesday in Barguna, a
coastal district about 250 km (156 miles) south of the capital,

"But we are not sure how many have died."

Storms and cyclones that form in the Bay of Bengal in
September and October slam into India's eastern coast and
neighboring Bangladesh almost every year.

In 1977, around 10,000 people were killed when a cyclone
lashed Andhra Pradesh. Nineteen years later, some 2,000 people
were killed in another cyclone. In Bangladesh, a cyclone left
143,000 people dead in 1991.

(Additional reporting by Aroop Talukdar in Barguna)