NationStates Jolt Archive

Cyclone hits Bangladesh, 1000+ dead

16-11-2007, 22:31

Cyclone Sidr hits Bangladesh. 1000+ dead already. Poor infrastructure and response mechanisms mean much more will be dead....not to mention potential breakouts of epidemics etc. Very sad.
1,000 feared killed in Bangladesh cyclone

PTI | November 16, 2007 | 22:29 IST

Over 1,000 people were feared killed and thousands of others went missing in Bangladesh as one of the deadliest cyclones battered the country's south-western coast, flattening houses and disrupting power supply plunging almost the entire country into darkness.

The government officials put the toll to over 260 and said it was likely to rise sharply.

Unofficial reports said the toll could be more than 1,000. The worst affected district is Barguna where unofficial sources said at least 450 people were killed.

At a press conference, Disaster Management Secretary Ayub Mian said, "There are remote areas and offshore islands where rescuers could not reach yet." He said the Barguna toll was yet to be confirmed.

At least 500 trawlers with over 3,000 fishermen have been missing since cyclone Sidr, packing winds upto 240 km, made landfall at Khulna-Barisal coast on Thursday evening and swept central Bangladesh, including the capital Dhaka.

Almost the entire country plunged into darkness with the collapse of the national grid. Power department officials said they could restore power supply in only 10 per cent of the areas.

They are expecting to restore the normal power supply within the next two days.

The power failure affected the transport system, water supply and telephone operations.

The army backed by air force choppers was called in to help in rescue efforts.

Other areas devastated in the cyclone included Dublar Char and districts of Khulna and Barisal.

Thousands of acres of paddy fields were damaged with lowlands being flooded in Patuakhali district, where 43 people died, officials said.

Nearly 80 per cent of shanties and thatched houses in coastal areas were destroyed, officials said.

Southern districts were plunged into darkness on Thursday evening itself after power was snapped. Gusty winds uprooted trees, electric polls and roadside billboards as the cyclone swept the country, including Dhaka.

Tidal surges of 15-20 feet inundated the low-lying areas, including Dublar Char, Nijhum Dwip, St Martin's Island, Shah Pori Char, Kochikhali and Kotka, in the coastal districts.

Over 6 lakh people, especially those living in the coastal zone, were evacuated in the last two days.

Airport and port operations remain virtually suspended.

The government had earlier announced red alert in the coastal zone. Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed and other officials were touring affected districts, officials said.

Met Office Director Samarendra Karmakar had earlier told reporters the cyclone was "strong like those in 1970 and 1991 and though there was a lot of time for preparations, minimising loss of property will not be possible."

Nearly 10 million people live in the coastal zone face the brunt of frequent cyclones in the country.

World Food Programme said it had deployed response teams in south-west Bangladesh to strengthen its local management. The WFP has created an operational alliance with 38 NGOs, including other UN agencies.
17-11-2007, 01:02
Good that some NGOs are already springing into action. Has there been any other international response?
17-11-2007, 02:20
Good that some NGOs are already springing into action. Has there been any other international response?

The UN World Food Programme is distributing food. Haven't seen specific responses from individual countries.

Coastal Eastern states of India (Orissa and West Bengal) have been hit too, but not as severe as Bangladesh.
19-11-2007, 13:53
Toll will be crossing 3000.
Bangladesh storm toll nears 3,000
Mon Nov 19, 2007 6:38 AM EST

By Anis Ahmed

DHAKA (Reuters) - Four days after super cyclone Sidr killed nearly 2,600 people in Bangladesh, rescuers struggled on Monday to reach isolated areas along the country's devastated coast and give aid to millions of survivors.

"The tragedy unfolds as we walk through one after another devastated village," said relief worker Mohammad Selim in Bagerhat, one of the worst-hit areas. "Often it looks like we are in a valley of death."

Media reports and the chairman of the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society, Mohammad Abdur Rob, said the death toll from Sidr had already passed 3,000, and was likely to rise. The government put the official toll at 2,580 confirmed dead.

"We are trying to reach all the affected areas on the vast coastline as soon as possible, then we will know how many people exactly have died," one government official said.

While it will take several days to determine the number of dead and missing, some 3 million survivors who were either evacuated from the low-lying southern coast or whose homes and villages were destroyed will need support, the government said.

Aid workers fear inadequate supplies of food, drinking water and medicine could lead to outbreaks of disease.

Grieving families begged for clothes to wrap around the bodies of dead relatives for burial. In some areas, they put corpses in mass graves.

Reuters reporters said bodies were being discovered by the hour in the rivers and paddy fields and under piles of debris.


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 after last week's devastating storm.

World Vision, one of many non-governmental groups working to help the cyclone survivors, said on Monday some 1,000 fishermen were still unaccounted for.

"Many of us climbed up on trees in the Sundarban forest, but I fell down in panic when I saw a tiger below," said a fisherman on Dublarchar island. "The waves then swept me further into the mangrove and I found myself alive when the cyclone was over."

The Sundarban forest, home to the endangered Royal Bengal Tiger and a World Heritage site, was badly hit. A forest official said Sidr had damaged trees over about 30,000 hectares (74,000 acres), but could not say how many animals had been killed.

S.M. Nurul Alam, coordinator of Coast Trust, a non-government organization in Cox's Bazar, said some 5,000 fishermen from Cox's Bazar and nearby islands had gone to Dublarchar in recent weeks.

"But they have not come back yet. Their families are waiting, amid fears they might have been swept away or have died," he told Reuters in Cox's Bazar.

Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury, foreign affairs adviser to the country's army-backed interim government, said on Monday the authorities had taken all measures to prepare for Cyclone Sidr.

"Despite these steps, appalling damage has occurred, the assessment of which is still on-going," he said in a statement. "We will welcome support from the international community."

The Dhaka Foreign Ministry said the King of Saudi Arabia has announced a $100 million grant for the victims. Riyadh would also airlift 300 tonnes of food and relief materials.

India said it would send a comprehensive relief package.

"This package will consist of medicine, food items, milk powder, tents and blankets, first-aid kits and other relief items," Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee told parliament.


Cyclone Sidr smashed into the coast of southern Bangladesh late on Thursday with 250 kph (155 mph) winds that whipped up a five-meter (16-foot) tidal surge.

In its wake, bodies of people and animals floated down rivers and the stench of death filled the air. Relatives tried to identify and bring them ashore, before burying them hurriedly without proper ceremonies.

Officials in affected areas say the death toll given by the ministry is far below the real numbers. Aid agencies have said the toll could rise beyond 10,000.

"Some 2,000 people have died in my area alone," said Anwar Panchayet in Bagerhat district. The storm was the worst to hit disaster-prone Bangladesh since 1991 when nearly 143,000 people died in a cyclone and the tidal surge it triggered.

A much improved disaster preparedness plan, including storm shelters built all along the coastline, has been credited with saving hundreds of lives.

"The extent of destruction is unimaginable," Reuters cameraman Rafiqur Rahman reported from a coastal village.

"In the 7 km (4.5 miles) I trekked this morning, I saw not a single house standing," he said. "Only a few leafless trees and a couple of dogs reminded me it was once a village"

UNICEF said Cyclone Sidr had affected 3.2 million people and put 1 million in shelters.

"Many children are finding themselves in difficult circumstances without food, shelter and safety -- they have suffered loss or separation from their parents," Louis-Georges Arsenault, UNICEF Representative in Bangladesh, said in a statement.

Two U.S. Navy amphibious assault ships with helicopters, the USS Essex and the USS Kearsarge, were sailing to Bangladesh to help in relief and rescue operations.

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(Additional reporting by Ruma Paul, Serajul Islam Quadir, Nizam Ahmed and Masud Karim; editing by Roger Crabb)