bangladesh cyclone
[Representational Image] Half a million people have had their lives disrupted in the country's low-lying coastal areas such as Barisal and Chittagong. Picture: People carry their belongings as they evacuate to safe place before Cyclone Mahasen lands, at a Rohingya internally displaced persons (IDP) camp outside Sittwe, May 16, 2013.Reuters

Tens of thousands of people in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are in need of aid, including safe drinking water, dry food rations and medicines, after being severely hit by the deadly Cyclone Roanu, aid agencies were quoted by Reuters as saying on Tuesday.

Heavy rains caused by the cyclone triggered floods, landslides and storm surges mostly in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, destroying homes, burying villages, engulfing swathes of farmland, and displacing lakhs of people.

"Tens of thousands of poor families will have lost most of their assets — not just their houses, but also their food stores, seasonal crops and vital livestock such as cows, goats and ducks," Shakeb Nabi, the Bangladesh head of Christian Aid, was quoted by the agency as saying.

"Access to food, safe drinking water, health supplies and sanitation materials is limited in some villages. Water points have been ruined, ground water contaminated and agricultural land destroyed," Nabi added.

The World Health Organization was quoted by the agency as saying that the cyclone had increased the risk of vector-borne diseases like malaria, water-borne and diarrheal diseases, the bacterial disease leptospirosis, fungal diseases and acute respiratory infections.

Roanu, which claimed the lives of at least 24 Bangladeshis, is the first cyclone of the season, which generally lasts from April to December, with severe storms often causing mass evacuations from coastal low-lying villages and widespread crop and property damage.

Half a million people have had their lives disrupted in the country's low-lying coastal areas such as Barisal and Chittagong.

Senait Gebregziabher, the Country Director for Plan International, was quoted by Reuters as saying: "We have pre-positioned household materials and hygiene kits that we can dispatch to affected areas and distribute to communities in urgent need."

CNN reported that the south-Asian country is vulnerable to cyclones because of its sea-level geography and location.

A cyclone in 1991 had reportedly killed around 140,000 people, according to the United Nations.

In 1970, Cyclone Bhola hit Bangladesh claiming lives of about 500,000 people, CNN reported.

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