29 May 2009

Cyclone Aila in Bangladesh & eastern India

Save the Children has dispatched emergency assessment teams to southwestern Bangladesh and eastern India and is preparing to provide clean water, replacement items and child-protection programs to families affected by Cyclone Aila, which struck the two countries on Monday, leaving coastal areas underwater. An estimated 3 million Bangladeshis and 2 million Indians — at least half of them children — have been affected by the storm. The death toll for both countries is approaching 200.The cyclone's initial impact washed away thousands of mud houses and other homes and strong winds toppled more. Thirteen-foot waves damaged river and flood-control embankments and dykes, putting hundreds of coastal villages underwater — 200 in India alone. Heavy rains have triggered flooding, which has submerged thousands of thatched houses.

Families Lose Everything

"Families have lost their homes, livestock, crops, access to work and food and, in many cases, clean water and sanitation. Daily life is a struggle, and thousands of children are at risk," said Ned Olney, vice president for Save the Children's global humanitarian response. "We are working to get water treatment plants up and running so that a bad situation does not get much worse through the spread of disease."

In addition to deploying water-treatment plants, Save the Children has staff in the disaster area to begin distribution of essential household items, identify sites for child-friendly spaces and to assess other issues confronting children.People in both countries have sought shelter on higher ground, in school buildings, government offices and cyclone shelters. In India, 400,000 people were reported marooned, and a regional official said stormy conditions and turbulent rivers prevented the initial delivery of assistance. Save the Children needs your support to help meet the most critical needs of children and families in the Cyclone Aila. Your donation will help provide drinking water, food distribution and other necessities.

DHAKA (Reuters) – Nearly 200 people have been killed by a cyclone that ripped through Bangladesh and eastern India, while millions remained marooned by floodwater or forced to live in shelters.The death toll in Bangladesh rose to more than 130 following recovery of dozens of bodies Tuesday, newspapers and private television channels said, while Indian officials said at least 64 people had died in West Bengal state. Cyclone Aila slammed into parts of coastal Bangladesh and eastern India Monday, triggering tidal surges and flooding that forced people from their homes. Officials in both countries said they feared the death tolls would rise although relief and rescue efforts were being intensified.

"Millions of people have been affected by the cyclone, with half a million in shelters and another half a million forced from their homes or were marooned," a disaster control official, who asked not to be identified, told Reuters in Dhaka. Officials in Bangladesh moved about 500,000 people to temporary shelters after they left their homes to escape huge tidal waves churned by winds up to 100 kph (60 mph). Heavy rain triggered by the storm also raised river levels and burst mud embankments in the Sundarbans delta in the neighboring eastern Indian state of West Bengal. "So far, we have got reports of 64 deaths in the state, including nine deaths in landslides in the Darjeeling hills on Tuesday," West Bengal's chief secretary Ashok Mohan Chakraborty told reporters in Kolkata. In Bangladesh, the worst affected area was the Satkhira district, near the port of Mongla, where a local official said 31 bodies were found in one village. "The situation here is alarming," Mohammad Abdus Samad, deputy commissioner of Satkhira, told Reuters by telephone.


Large areas of crops were destroyed in both countries by the cyclone, officials said, adding they were assessing the damage. Many farmers have lost their rice just ready to be harvested. "Allah has taken it all from me. I have been made a pauper," said Mohar Ali, a farmer. Aila swept many areas still recovering from Cyclone Sidr in November 2007, which killed 3,500 people in Bangladesh and made at least a million homeless. Bangladesh officials said at least 100 people were missing after Monday's cyclone. Some aid workers said they feared several hundred people might have been killed by Aila, which followed the less lethal Cyclone Bijli that killed a only few people in April. Army, navy and coastguards were helping civil officials and volunteers to search

for the missing and pick up people marooned in hundreds of villages, caught in chest or shoulder-high waters, witnesses said. "Continuing rain and wind have slowed our efforts," one official said. Bangladesh's food and disaster management minister, Abdur Razzaque, who visited some of the battered areas Tuesday, said authorities were trying to bring the marooned families to safety and provide them food and shelter. Witnesses said many cyclone survivors faced a shortage of food and drinking water in areas still under storm surge. In West Bengal, the Indian army and government aid workers Tuesday began an operation to provide relief to more than 400,000 people marooned in the Sundarbans delta region. "We have moved two columns, each with 100 personnel, to Sundarbans for relief," said Mahesh Upasani, a defense spokesman.