A special government disaster committee met Friday to assess the devastation from the worst storm to ravage Bangladesh this century as officials and news reports said the death toll had passed 1,200 with more than 6,000 people missing.

Officials said more than 20,000 people were injured in the storm that crashed out of the Bay of Bengal Tuesday night and tore a path of destruction across Bangladesh.Gusty winds and heavy downpours, however, continued through Thursday, hampering rescue and relief efforts.

President Hussain Mohammad Ershad toured a number of areas hit by the cyclone's 110 mph winds and lashing rain and later convened a meeting of the National Disaster Committee to review the damage and chalk out a strategy for facing future catastrophes, officials said.

In addition, private aid organizations and local government relief teams were assessing the destruction, which appeared to be worst in the southern Bagerhat and Sathkhira districts.

The cyclone smashed homes, uprooted trees and power lines, sank at least one ship, disrupted communications and caused tidal waves.

It hit the overcrowded, impoverished nation of 110 million people as it was still struggling to surmount the devastation wrought by its worst-ever floods, which in August and September inundated much of the country, and killed more than 2,000 people.