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Cyclone Sidr

Updated: Tue, 1 Jan 2008

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Cyclone Sidr, Bangladesh's worst disaster in years, killed some 3,500, injured tens of thousands and displaced 2 million.

The storm struck on Nov. 15, 2007, triggering a 5-metre (15-foot) tidal surge.

The United Nations said after the disaster that 8.5 million people were affected, a third of whom needed emergency assistance.

The cyclone was packing winds of 250 kph (155 mph) when it struck the southwestern coast.

The devastation includes:

  • Over 1.4 million homes destroyed or damaged
  • At least 1.25 million livestock killed
  • 2 million acres of cropland damaged
  • Roads and coastal embankments destroyed

Storms batter Bangladesh every year and a severe cyclone killed more than half a million people in 1970, while another in 1991 killed 143,000.

In recent years the country has greatly improved its disaster prevention, putting in place early warning systems and carrying out mass evacuations.

Aid experts say Sidr would have likely killed more than 100,000 people not so long ago. (See this AlertNet article for more on how Bangladesh has reduced death tolls in disasters.)

Food, shelter and cash are the three greatest needs in terms of emergency assistance, the United Nations says, but sanitation, drinking water, electricity and livelihood assistance are also critical.

Bangladesh has asked the international community for $1 billion to rebuild coastal areas.

"As many as 8 million face the bleak prospect of destitution," Fakhruddin Ahmed, the head of Bangladesh's interim government, told donors in December.

A survey by the country's accountancy institute revealed Sidr caused $4.4 billion worth of damages.

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