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Death toll rises to 10,000 : Air-borne relief operation underway: Thousands of troops, volunteers deployed; Tk. 35 cr allocated so far, UN aid over $6m expected

Sunday November 18 2007 08:05:24 AM BDT

The confirmed total death toll in the affected areas, where the super severe cyclone Sidr had hit, rose to 3,018 while 12,500 persons were injured and 57 others remained missing till 11:30pm yesterday.(New NationBD)

However, unoffical sources claimed the death figures would be even higher and may reach 10,000 and the number of injured thrice the death figure, according to the dispatches sent yesterday by reporters from the devastated areas.

Most of the deaths were caused by drowing in tidal surge and collapsing houses and falling trees. Armed Forces Division at a press briefing said that as many as 93 maritime vessels with crew sunk in the cyclone hit regions. Of these five were ships, 73 trawlers and 25 passenger launches.

In the coastal areas of the worst hit districts, inummerable corpses are seen floating in the sea, rivers and other water bodies, while the survivors wailing for their lost dear ones and passing their days without food or drinking water in anticiaption of receivng relief under the open sky.

Meanwhile, thousands of volunteers and members of the Armed Forces have were launched a massive rescue and relief operation from Friday. The number of Armed Forces personnel pressed into service was raised further yesterday, when 3,000 more troops were desptached for the operation in addition to those already stationed in the affected areas.

The Red Crescent Society deployed about 42,000 volunteers, while major NGOs and local administration the rest.

Military ships and helicopters were trying to reach thousands of survivors in the remote islands of the Bay of Bengal amid rough waters yesterday. The Armed Forces’ ship and helicopters, equipped with sufficient dry food, drinking water, medicines and medical supplies, are the only hope for the survivors of these areas, according to reports recived in the capital last night.

Navy ships scoured the coastal areas for hundreds of people reported missing and to clear river channels clogged with sunken vessels. Helicopters flew sorties to the devastated areas, dropping food, drinking water and medicine for the survivors.

The storm Sidr generated on November 12 coincided with the century’s worst cyclone on the same day in 1970 that killed about a million people in the coastal areas.

The cyclone, which followed devastating floods in July and September that killed more than 1,000, gave a severe blow to the country’s economy which is suffering from serious price hike and inflation.

Cyclone SIDR smashed into the country's southern coastline late Thursday night with a wind speed of 185 to 250 killometres per hour (kmph) depending on distance of the areas covered by its eye. The cyclone ravaged the Dublar Char and part of the Sundarbans at a windspeed of 250 kmph, whipping up a 20 feet tidal surge, weather experts said.

The radius of the massive cyclone, which had the same destructive strength of the Hurricane Caterina, passed through central parts of the country, hitting 34 of the country’s 64 districts. Eleven of the 15 coastal districts were hit hard. Of these five districts were ravaged most.

“We could not find a single family, which has not lost a member in the worst ravaged areas,” a reporter told over military wirless last night.

Standing aman and robi crop of at least a few millions hacters of land were totally smashed and tens of thousands of houses destroyed. Electricity supply and telecommunications could not be restored till yesterday.

“It will take several days to complete the search and know the actual casualty figure and extent of damage to property,” Ministry of Food and Disaster Management Secretary Mohammad Ayub Miah told journalists.

Chief Adviser’s Press Secretary Syed Fahim Munayem said the Tk 35 crore in cash was sent to the most affected districts yesterday from the Chief Adviser’s Relief Fund.

Chief Adviser Dr Fakruddin Ahmed along with Army Chief General Moeen U Ahmed visited a number of affected districts for the second day yesterday. They talked to the victims and distrbuted relief materials.

Top leaders of different political parties, including the BNP and the Awami League, asked their activists across the country to stand by the cyclone victims in full force.

Aid officials described the damage from the storm, which blew away homes and ripped trees and power lines, as extremely severe. Most of the country plunged into darkness on Friday after the electricity grid was knocked out.

Many parts of Dhaka, the capital city of 10 million people, were still without power and water supply yesterday.

Red Crescent and local administration officials said some 3,500 fishermen were still unaccounted for in the Bay of Bengal, on about 150 boats. Fishing community leaders in Cox's Bazar and Barisal said they still expected some missing crew to return to the shore.

The Sundarbans, home to the endangered Royal Bengal tigers and a World Heritage site, took the brunt of the latest storm and forest officials said many animals would have died.

The category 4 cyclone devastated three coastal towns - Patuakhali, Barguna, Bagerhat and Jhalakathi - and forced 3.2 million people to evacuate. It lost strength after landfall and passed over the country early on Friday, weather officials said.


New NationBD

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