Indian navy plucks 33 cyclone survivors, body, from sea

DHAKA, Bangladesh –  An Indian navy ship has plucked 33 people and a body from rough seas off Bangladesh, officials said Wednesday, May 31, a day after Cyclone Mora battered coastal areas with violent winds and rain that left 6 dead.

The INS Sumitra found the survivors, including women and children, floating in the Bay of Bengal roughly 160 kilometers (100 miles) off the coast of Chittagong.

"Our navy have found 33 survivors and one dead body from the sea. They were floating in the waters when they were found," Dhaka's Indian High Commission spokesman Ranjan Mondol said.

The Indian embassy's Facebook page showed pictures of survivors floating in the Bay of Bengal as well as of rescued people covererd in blankets.

Eastern Naval Command spokesman Commander C.G. Raju said the rescued Bangladeshis were given medical treatment.

"We are planning to send a rescue aircraft to look out for more survivors," he told AFP.

Cyclone Mora smashed into Bangladesh's coastline around Cox's Bazar district early Tuesday, packing winds up to 135 kilometres per hour (83 mph).

Officials said the cyclone killed at least 7 people, including the person found by the Indian Navy, and destroyed or damaged more than 20,000 homes. Nearly 600,000 residents have been evacuated from coastal areas.

The Indian Navy had reportedly kept its Eastern Fleet on the highest alert level to assist Bangladesh if needed.

As the cyclone advanced on Bangladesh, local authorities increased the maritime threat to its highest level and ordered all fishing vessels to remain at port.

The Fishing Boat Association said an estimated 200 fishermen had not returned to port since the cyclone slammed into the coast.

"We think they could be stranded or have anchored in far-flung islands or villages," association secretary Abdul Khalek told AFP.

In the past many fishermen reported missing during cyclones return to their villages after the storm has subsided.

The Bangladeshi navy has said it was sending ships to assist the tens of thousands affected by the cyclone, and to comb the seas for any stranded survivors.

"Our ships are also actively working on search and rescue operations in the region," said Taposhi Rabeya, a spokeswoman at the armed forces division. –