Heavy rains hampered rescue operations Saturday and added to the misery of homeless survivors of a tornado that killed at least 1,100 people in central Bangladesh and left thousands missing, officials said.
Storms hurling rain and fierce winds lashed two new areas of the stricken country Saturday, flattening eight villages and leaving at least seven more dead and 50 others wounded. And on the nearby Jamuna river, nearly 20 boats sank with 40 fishermen aboard.Opposition political leaders criticized government relief operations, saying desperately needed aid was slow to reach the estimated 100,000 left homeless by a tornado Wednesday.
Officials said relief efforts for about 2,500 of those whose homes were totaled were under way.
Survivors said the tornado - the most destructive of all atmospheric phenomena - lasted only six minutes but sliced an eight-mile-long and one-mile-wide swath through 20 densely populated villages.
Officials Saturday reported 1,109 deaths from across the devastated area and said 498 corpses were buried Friday without coffins or covering cloth in a mass grave set amid the destroyed village of Hergoze.
"Except for my house, everything was just wiped away," said the weeping village headman, Abdul Gaffer, who lost four family members. "We dug with shovels and put them in the big hole. Most of the bodies were unrecognizable."
Gaffer said he had few people to assist him in burying any more bodies because most of his village's survivors - among the estimated 100,000 left homeless by the tornado - had left the area in search of food and water.
Among the few buildings left standing by the tornado were a mosque, a school and a British-built bungalow, but the storm's fury made short work of the flimsy dwellings in which most of the residents lived near where they grew rice and potatoes.
The odor of corpses also slowed the relief operation because some rescuers were refusing to scour the area for fear of disease.
Hospital sources in Manikganj, the district hardest hit by the tornado's destructive swing, said they have run out of bandages, medicines and blood.
"We expect fresh supplies from Dhaka but every minute is important," a doctor said on condition of anonymity.
More than 65 bodies were recovered Saturday from an area ravaged by the twister and four people injured by the violent winds died in a Manikganj hospital, raising the official death toll to 1,109.
About 10,000 people were injured by the tornado, some 1,000 critically, and 5,000 are missing, officials said.
After hitting Manikganj district, the twister left a 20-mile-long stretch of farmland untouched, then descended with lesser power on two other districts, causing severe damage and injuries before dissipating.