After losing thousands of loved ones to a devastating cyclone that smashed through impoverished Bangladesh, thousands of traumatised, stranded and hungry survivors are craving for much-need help. “I lost six of my family members in the cyclone,” Sattar Gazi, 55, was reported as saying on November 18. “I am afraid that the rest of us will die of hunger. We are without food and water for the last few days.” Gazi, whose village was smashed by a six-metre tidal wave, doesn’t have clothes to wrap the bodies of his dead family. “We are wrapping the bodies in leaves.” The private ATN Bangla television network put the confirmed death toll at three thousand. Officials in the relief and disaster management ministry had earlier put the toll from cyclone Sidr at just over 2,200 dead. There has also been no word from the string of islands off the south coast and in the Bay of Bengal, which would have also suffered the full strength of winds of 220-240 kilometres an hour and torrential rains. Most of the deaths were caused by the surge washing away homes, strong winds blowing down dwellings, flying debris and falling trees that crushed flimsy bamboo and tin homes. The storm is the worst to hit disaster-prone Bangladesh since 1991 when nearly 143,000 people died. It falls only a few months after floods devastated the northern part of the Asian Muslim country.
Relief workers and government officials warn that impoverished country would not be able to cope with the catastrophic consequences of the cyclone.