Thousands of Bangladeshis were left homeless on Sunday after Cyclone Roanu battered the impoverished southern coastal region, ripping apart flimsy houses and killing at least 24 people. The storm on Saturday ploughed through low-lying villages in the Chittagong and Barisal regions, where residents described seeing meters-high walls of water that caught some unaware. The cyclone damaged tens of thousands of mud-and-tin houses in the impoverished southern districts, with many low-lying villages inundated by a storm surge.

Authorities evacuated more than 500,000 people to shelters before the cyclone hit with winds of up to 88 kilometers per hour. They later weakened. But officials said thousands of others along the coast were left stranded in their homes as sea water ripped through dykes and flooded dozens of villages.

“Before we could realize, the whole village was washed away by a huge wall of water,” said Abu Siddique, a councilor from Banshkhali district in Chittagong. “It came at least six hours early, giving the villagers no time to rush to cyclone shelters. Those who died were caught by a sudden rush of water,” he told AFP.

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