Sunday, November 18, 2007

Cyclone Sidr on Bangladesh

DHAKA, Bangladesh (CNN) -- The Bangladesh government estimated Sunday the death toll from Cyclone Sidr was now at least 2,000, and warned that it is expected to rise.
As flood waters recede, aid workers say they expect to find scores more bodies when remote villages are finally reached and the counting is done.
They face debris-blocked roads, no electricity and almost nonexistent communications.
In addition to the dead, another 15,000 people have been injured. Thousands of people have been displaced and many are still missing.
Cyclone Sidr, with sustained winds of at least 131 mph (210 kph), made landfall Thursday night along the western coast of Bangladesh near the border with India, unleashing floodwaters.
Government spokesman Fahim Munaim told CNN by telephone that the government held an emergency Cabinet meeting Saturday to assess the disaster and discuss recovery issues.
He said the extent of the cyclone's damage may be much worse because emergency relief had not been able to reach remote areas.
The government has identified the 12 worst districts -- all of them located on the southern coast -- out of the 23 affected by the cyclone, Munaim said. The Bangladeshi air force, army and navy are working to provide shelter for the many people who have been displaced. Power is still out in much of the country but it is being restored.
Vince Edwards, national director of the relief agency World Vision in Bangladesh, said the high wind speeds of Cyclone Sidr have laid waste to the all-important rice crop and caused a huge loss of livestock.
He said 280,000 families have been rendered homeless by the cyclone, but many have been able to get shelter from family members.
World Vision is deploying 135 staffers and 7,000 volunteers to provide food, shelter and other relief. The group is appealing for $1.5 million in further funds to assist some 9.300 families rebuild their homes.
In Dhaka -- about 200 miles north of the worst-hit region -- there were power outages, massive traffic jams and spotty phone service, CNN's Cal Perry said from the city.
"From an infrastructure perspective, the country absolutely has been brought to its knees," he said.
Red Crescent spokeswoman Nabiha Chowdhury told CNN that communication with her agency's teams who have arrived in the stricken area is spotty, but they have resources with them to immediately help people with water purification, which she said was a top priority.
Those teams have cash with them to buy relief supplies from local wholesalers, said Chowdhury, who said the latest number of people injured was 15,000 with 1,000 missing. Chowdhury said about 600,000 people had fled, adding that about 2 million people lived along the coast.
The U.N. World Food Programme said it has enough high-energy biscuits to feed 400,000 people for several days.
Another humanitarian group, Save The Children, appealed for aid from the public.
"Many families have lost everything, including their homes and their crops, and they are struggling to survive," said Kelly Stevenson, Save the Children's Bangladesh director.
"We are appealing to the U.S. public to support our efforts to assist children and families affected by this disaster. We remain very concerned about possible outbreaks of cholera and severe diarrhea due to the lack of access to clean water," he said in a written statement.
U.S. President George Bush pledged Saturday $2.1 million for emergency relief as an "initial contribution," and said in a statement that two U.S. Navy carriers, the USS Essex and the USS Kearsarge, were en route to Bangladesh to assist in operations there.

"The United States is committed to helping the people of Bangladesh and their government as they face the many challenges of rebuilding and recovering," Bush said.
Furthermore, Bush said, USAID will airlift 35 tons plastic sheeting, jerricans, hygiene kits and other non-food supplies to the country. And an 18-person Department of Defense medical team in Bangladesh prior to the storm is helping with current medical needs, Bush said in the statement.

Comment by Jackdm : While Western World goes on humiliating islam ( Bangladesh, with 125 million muslim, is the fourth islamic country on this planet) showing compassion and sending money and goodies, we are still waiting a reaction coming from Saudi Arabia, or Syria, Iran, etc...
As it occured many times in the past, these countries are expected to show their deep respect for fellow muslims just ignoring them.


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