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Effects of Cyclone Sidr could be long lasting

For a country still reeling from the devastating flooding during the summer, the effects of Cylone Sidr could potentially be long lasting.

The death toll from the cyclone is now above the 3,000 mark, and most accounts, including this one from the Guardian, claim that this figure will rise much further. A spokeswoman for Save the Children has commented: “A lot of fishermen are not yet accounted for. At this stage we simply don't know how many people have been killed.”

When the cyclone struck it cut off all communications and utility services across the country, leaving many areas isolated and very difficult to reach. In vast areas of the country the roads have been destroyed. Oxfam said its teams took one and a half days to reach towns that were normally just five hours' drive from the capital, Dhaka. Heather Blackwell, the head of Oxfam in Bangladesh, said: "There are many villages in remote areas, including on sandbank islands that are yet to be reached. It could take weeks before we know how bad this cyclone was."

The cyclone has also severely compounded Bangladesh's already delicate food situation. Cyclone Sidr has caused enormous agricultural damage, destroying at least half the coastal crop in a matter of hours. In total, it is being estimated that 80% of the rice crop has been destroyed. The floods during the summer had already destroyed nearly 2.6 million tonnes of agricultural produce. Both these disasters happening so close together have resulted in a dire situation for the many Bangladeshis whose cultivable land is their only source of income.

Concern’s efforts in Bangladesh at the moment are focusing on people’s immediate needs. Relief packages of food and non-food items are being distributed to thousands of the poorest families who have been affected by the cyclone. While this work is undoubtedly vital, it will be equally important in the coming months as Concern begins to combat some of the potentially long term effects of the disaster. As Chand Miah, a resident of Maran Char, said, speaking to the Guardian: “We survived, but what we need now is help to rebuild our homes.”