Some 40 fishermen missing as storm crosses Bangladesh's southeastern coast

DHAKA, May 15, 2007 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- Some 40 fishermen were reportedly missing in islands of St. Martin and Maheshkhali in southeastern Bangladesh as a cyclonic storm crossed the Chittagong-Cox's Bazar coast Tuesday morning, local news agency UNB reported.

Initial reports said the cyclone code named "Akash" swept over the St. Martin Island in the Bay of Bengal with a wind speed of 150 kms Monday night.

According to UNB, at least 12 fishing boats were caught in the storm Monday night. Two boats sank while 10 others with 30 to 40 fishermen were missing.

Besides, about 150 houses were damaged by the storm accompanied by tidal surge of about 3 feet (90 cms).

As the storm crossed the Cox's Bazar coast, the tidal surge flooded low areas of Maheshkhali, Kutubdia and Chokoria Tuesday morning. The western area of Cox's Bazar airport was also submerged with sea water. People in the area took shelter in safer places.

Now the storm lies as a land depression over eastern part of Bangladesh and adjoining northeast India, said a special weather bulletin. It is likely to move north-northeastwards further in land and weaken gradually by giving precipitation. Under its influence squally weather is likely to affect the ports.

All fishing-boats and trawlers over the north bay have been advised to remain in shelter till mid-night Tuesday and afterwards may proceed with caution.