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Bangla cyclone death toll could cross 1,000

The death toll from Hurricane Sidr that devastated Bangladesh has crossed 700 and could touch the 1,000-mark, besides leaving long-term damage to the country's economy, say media reports.

world Updated: Nov 17, 2007 11:47 IST
IANS

The death toll from Hurricane Sidr that devastated Bangladesh has crossed 700 and could touch the 1,000-mark, besides leaving long-term damage to the country's economy, media reports said on Saturday.

The government has launched a massive relief and rehabilitation drive following the disaster.

Heavy rains lashed Dhaka through the day on Friday and the country's power supplies snapped for several hours, disrupting communications within and with the outside world.

Also hit were transport facilities and water supply to urban areas. They were restored partially only towards the evening, after the cyclone, triggering winds at 220 kms per hour, moved to Meghalaya and Tripura in northeastern India.

The government, which put the death toll at 233 on Friday, scaled it up to 700 at midnight. But estimates of deaths from Barguna and Patuakhali, among the worst hit of the 11 districts in southern region, are yet to come in.

The death toll at Patuakhali, according to The Daily Star, was 490. No information on causalities could be gathered from numerous remote islands, where residents had ignored the government's warning of the impending hurricane.

Over 600,000 people were evacuated on Wednesday and Thursday.

Around 95 per cent of the standing crops in 11 coastal districts have been badly affected, said the New Age newspaper, quoting agriculture ministry sources. They said farming of shrimp and cattle were also damaged by the hurricane.

Chief Advisor Fakhruddin Ahmed visited Barguna district, among the worst affected by the cyclone that hit Bangladesh on Thursday evening.

Besides, 732 medical teams, 12 helicopters of the air force and eight gunboats of the navy are working in the 15 affected districts, The Daily Star said.

Economists feared the Sidr would take its toll on the livelihood of the most poor because it is sure to raise inflation, the New Age newspaper said on Saturday.

"Hundreds of trees lying on the roads and fields give a picture of massive damage," said Raphael Palma, communications manager of World Vision Bangladesh, an NGO who visited the Mongla port on Friday.

Bangladesh has been prone to cyclones, having braved over 80 cyclones in the last 130 years.

In recent years, it has built an elaborate disaster management network comprising government and non-government agencies and a drill that forewarns the vast population that lives by and off the Bay of Bengal.

First Published: Nov 17, 2007 11:41 IST