Agencies rush aid into cyclone devastated Bangladesh

By staff writers
November 19, 2007

Coastal communities in Bangladesh and north-east India scrambled to shelters as a category four cyclone, with wind speeds of around 150 mph, caused devastation over the weekend - with nearly 3,000 dead so far, and the total likely to move toward 10,000.

The area has not seen a storm of this strength since the catastrophic cyclone of 1991 and Christian Muslim and secular agencies in Bangladesh and India are already working to reduce the impact of the latest cyclone.

The Christian Commission for Development in Bangladesh (CCDB) has helped the entire population of the island of Moheshkali move to one of the 44 cyclone shelters it built following the 1991 disaster.

It has also been involved with emergency first aid and dry food supplies to help communities that had already fled their homes.

UK-based international development agency Christian Aid says it is in regular contact with its regional partners to ensure the most vulnerable can be helped as quickly as possible.

"We will keep you informed of the situation in India and Bangladesh and how our partners are responding," a spokesperson declared, encouraging contributions to its Emergency Appeal.

Helicopters airlifted food to hungry survivors today (19 November 2007), while rescuers struggled to reach remote areas devastated by the record-breaking cyclone.

The helicopters carried mostly high-protein cookies supplied by the World Food Programme, Emamul Haque, a spokesperson for the WFP office in Bangladesh's capital, Dhaka, which is coordinating international relief efforts, explained.

International aid organizations have pledged initial packages of US$25 million (€17 million) during a meeting with Bangladesh agencies, Mr Haque said.

The official death toll from Tropical Cyclone Sidr reached 2,407 today, according to the Disaster Management Ministry.

The Bangladesh Red Crescent Society, the Islamic equivalent of the Red Cross, warned the toll could hit 10,000 once rescuers reach outlying islands, saying the estimate came from volunteers in rescue operations so far.

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