Bangladeshi authorities on Friday started delivering aid to thousands of families whose homes were destroyed by Cyclone Mahasen, which officials said killed 17 people.

More than 49,000 thatched houses were destroyed when the cyclone hit the Bay of Bengal late on Thursday, the chief of the country’s disaster management department Abdul Wazed told DPA by phone.

Most of the more than 1 million coastal residents who took shelter from the cyclone have returned home and the Government has started door-to-door assessment of the damage caused by the cyclone to support those affected, he said.

“Cash and material support will be provided immediately to those who have lost their homes to build new ones,” Mr. Wazed said.

Families in remote areas were given 3,000 taka (38 dollars) and 20 kg of rice, he said adding that the rest of the compensation package will be provided shortly after the assessment is completed.

The government had allocated about 13 million dollars and 5,000 tonnes of rice to help victims.

Many low-lying areas and islands were inundated by a surge during the storm.

Television footage showed many people stranded without homes. Others have started reparing their damaged properties.

Airports, port open

Operations resumed at Bangladesh’s two main airports and the port of Chittagong, which were closed in view of the storm.

Friday prayers at mosques were dedicated to the victims.

More than 6 million people are exposed to periodic cyclones in low-lying areas in and around Chittagong, about 300 km south-east of Dhaka.

An early warning system and network of shelters were set up in Bangladesh after a storm killed an estimated 138,000 people in 1991. In 2007, a cyclone killed more than 3,000 people.

Myanmar spared

The cyclone Mahasen had been expected to also hit the west of neighbouring Myanmar, prompting the evacuation of more than 166,000 people in the western State of Rakhine, including some 27,000 refugees from last year’s sectarian fighting between Buddhists and Muslim Rohingyas. But the storm weakened and changed course, sparing the Myanmar coast.

“We must say goodbye to Mahasen; she changed her path,” Tun Lwin, a former director of Myanmar’s Department of Meteorology and Hydrology, said on Thursday.

Bodies recovered from sea

Separately, police have recovered 31 bodies, mostly children, after a ship believed to be carrying Myanmar nationals capsized off the coast of Bangladesh.

“We found 23 children aged between 2 and 12 among the bodies floating in the Bay of Bengal,” the acting district police chief of Cox’s Bazar, Babul Akhter, told DPA. The rest of the victims were women, he said.

The bodies were decomposing when they were found off Teknaf, which lies on the border between Myanmar and Bangladesh, indicating they died before Cyclone Mahasen hit the area, said Ruhul Amin, chief district administrator.