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Bangladesh cyclone to prompt aid effort

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)––Cyclone Sidr struck the southern coast of Bangladesh Nov. 15 with 155 mph winds and gusts of up to 190 mph. More than 1,000 people were killed as a four-foot-tall tidal surge flattened bamboo and tin houses in 15 districts along the coast.

Government officials had evacuated at least 650,000 people to cyclone shelters or government buildings. Millions of people live in isolated fishing villages throughout the low-lying coastal terrain, which is extremely susceptible to storm surges.

At least 60 percent of the trees in the area have been uprooted and debris on roads and in rivers will make it difficult to reach affected communities, the Associated Press reported. Power and communications also were knocked out in the capital, Dhaka.

Baptist Global Response and Baptist partners in the region anticipate responding to human needs in the area once an assessment of the situation can be made, said Jim Brown, U.S. director for Baptist Global Response, a Southern Baptist international development and relief organization.

“The immediate needs are likely to consist of food, water, temporary shelter and emergency medical needs,” Brown said. “In the long term, sheltering will be an issue, as will the need for clean, potable water. Widespread flooding could spread waterborne diseases and raise serious sanitation concerns. Crisis counseling also is likely to be needed and should be woven throughout all relief responses.”

Millions of Indians, Nepalis and Bangladeshis were affected in August by monsoon rains that brought what the United Nations called “the worst flooding in living memory” to southern Asia. In 1970, an estimated 500,000 people died when a cyclone hit Bangladesh, while an estimated 138,000 people died in a cyclonic tsunami in 1991.
Mark Kelly is a freelance writer based in Gallatin, Tenn. Baptist Global Response is on the Web at www.gobgr.org.

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