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Cyclone Sidr

On the 15 November Cyclone Sidr caused devastation in Bangladesh. Ripping through the south western coast, killing thousands of people, demolishing houses, crops and livestock, the cyclone left a trail of devastation over thousands of square kilometres.

Despite the evacuation of hundreds of people, the country still suffered a high number of deaths. As of 20 November, the current death toll has been put at 2,753. According to government updates, over four million people have been affected in 141 upazilas (districts). Over three million houses and over 790 educational institutions have been completely destroyed.

Dead bodies are still being collected and in many areas mass burials have had to be carried out without proper religious rites. It is reported that in the hardest hit areas there is a stench of rotting bodies and animal carcasses. The winds, which reached 240km per hour, cut off all communications and utility services across the country. There is shortage of fresh water, food and shelter.

Emergency interventions

The Bangladeshi government has sanctioned funds for housing in the cyclone hit areas. Priority is being given to Patuakhali, Bagerhat, Pirojpur, Barisal, Barguna, Jhalakati, Bhola, Madaripur, Gopalganj, Shariatpur, Khulna and Satkhira. Currently 732 medical teams are working in these areas. Rescue operations are being carried out by the army, air force and navy. Dry food is being provided, though many areas are still hard to reach and many people lack food and fresh drinking water.

Most of the small and local NGOs are also mobilising their resources to do as much as they can for the cyclone victims. For example Concern’s partner organisations such as Sangram and Speed Trust have aided in rescue operations, mobilised local people to take care of mass burials, distributed dry food and other food rations for some families to address immediate food crisis. These small NGOs also arranged for transport of injured persons to nearest places for medical aid.

Concern’s response

Concern has started relief operations in Barguna and Patuakhali districts for 26,000 extremely poor families. Concern aims to assist those families who are least able to cope with the disaster. A relief package will be distributed that will provide food for 15 days for each family.

Concern Bangladesh is continuously monitoring the situation. Concern staff and partner organisation staff have been deployed to assess the extent of the disaster and identify the areas and communities which are most in need of help.