( Reuters ) - Grieving relatives and rescuers picked through the rubble left in the wake of a super cyclone that battered Bangladesh as the death toll neared 2000 on Sunday.
Military ships and helicopters were trying to reach thousands of people believed stranded on islands in the Bay of Bengal and in coastal areas still cut off by the devastating storm.
Officials expected the death toll to rise further as the search for hundreds of people missing after Thursday night's storm intensified.
"It will take several days to complete the search and know the actual casualty figure and extent of damage to property," said food and disaster ministry official Ayub Miah.
A huge effort was underway to get food, drinking water and shelter to tens of thousands affected by the storm, the worst to hit disaster-prone Bangladesh since 1991 when nearly 143,000 people died.
Cyclone Sidr smashed into the country's southern coastline late on Thursday night with 250 kph (155 mph) winds that whipped up a five meter tidal surge.
Most of the deaths came from the surge washing away homes and strong winds blowing down dwellings. Many others drowned or were lost at sea.
The official death toll rose to 1,784 early on Sunday, but local media put the figure at more than 3,000. A much improved disaster preparedness plan has been credited with saving scores of lives.