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Bangladesh Battered By Killer Cyclone

Tens of millions of people are directly in the path of a category 5 cyclone that has arrived onshore in Bangladesh this morning, and many of them have no where to go.

KHULNA, Bangladesh (AP) -- A cyclone packing 150 mph winds slammed Bangladesh's southeast coast late Thursday, killing at least 41 people and forcing hundreds of thousands from their homes, officials said.

Cyclone Sidr leveled numerous homes as it sent driving rains and high waves across the lowland coastal areas before weakening to a tropical storm by Friday morning, according to the Bangladesh Meteorological Department.

Local government officials across the region said that at least 41 people had been killed, mainly from collapsing homes and falling debris, and 650,000 people had been evacuated.

Storm surges nearly 4 feet high inundated low-lying areas and some offshore islands in the 15 coastal districts in the cyclone's path. Communications with remote forest areas and offshore islands were temporarily lost.

As the BBC reports, even with 650,000 evacuees millions more may be in mortal danger.

An estimated 10 million people live in Bangladesh's coastal areas and there is simply not enough room for all of them in the country's 500 or more shelters.

Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries in the world: nearly all the country is low lying and vulnerable to flooding.

The huge logistical exercise of dealing with such a large scale natural calamity is certain to stretch the resources of the authorities.

In the last big cyclone of 1991 winds of around 250kmh (155 mph) battered the south.

On that occasion, there was a six metre (20 foot) storm surge inland over a wide area, killing an estimated 138,000 people and leaving as many as 10 million homeless and sweeping away entire villages.

I suppose we'll know a heck of a lot more about damages and loss of life in the next 48 hours. Let's hope it's not a disaster of the proportions of the Sumatra earthquake and tsunami...


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Comments (6)

By tomorrow, the headlines ... (Below threshold)
MagicalPat:

By tomorrow, the headlines will read:

"Global warming induced cyclone begs the question, Should George Bush have signed Kyoto?"

He should have signed Kyoto... (Below threshold)
Scrapiron:

He should have signed Kyoto and he should not have let the terrorists attack in the 80's and 90's happen, being the magic man the left gives him credit for. Didn't he run and let the Cuban freedom fighters get slaughtered at the bay of pigs and abondon our marines when the blackhawk went down? He's been one busy little fellow.

Sad. My prayers go out to ... (Below threshold)

Sad. My prayers go out to the victims.

Unfortunately, Bangladesh is a human catastrophe in slow motion in the best of times. They are one of the poorest nations on earth, with little infrastructure, resources, or hope. Even much smaller storms regularly wreak havoc upon their population, much of which must live near the ocean as their only source of food and/or income.

Most of the poorer "developing" nations could dramatically improve the lives of their peoples through hefty injections of political and economic freedom. For those few like Bangladesh, not even the most optimistic free marketeer holds such hope. They will dependent on international charity for the foreseeable future.

Our prayers to the people o... (Below threshold)
Candy:

Our prayers to the people of Bangladesh.

That storm hit wrong place ... (Below threshold)
Spurwing Plover:

That storm hit wrong place it realy should have sweeped through WASHINGTON D.C. and cleaned it out of all those crooks and then through SAN FRANCISCO and HOLLYWOOD and done the same and then theres U.C. BERKLEY and U.C. SANTA CRUZ
depp=true

Facing the challenge of thi... (Below threshold)

Facing the challenge of this mega cyclone Sidr and keeping the figures under couple of hundreds in a populous land (of 140 million) is truly a sign of progress if one should compare. Its true because of lack of resources we cannot expect Bangladesh to be more perfect in disaster management but this proves Bangladesh is on the right path and more awareness and experience are needed to tackle the changing climates and the wraths of the nature.

Earlier in 2005 I wrote about Hurricane Katrina and compared with Bangladesh.

Commentators praised the survival instincts of the Bangladeshi people, their ingenuity in the face of adversity and their culture of hard work and the courage to start all over again.

More here.




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