|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
B'desh: Toll crosses 2,000; rescuers struggle to reach victims
November 18, 2007 18:06 IST
Rescuers on Sunday struggled to reach out to thousands of survivors in the cyclone-hit southwestern coastlines of Bangladesh where the calamity left over 2,000 people dead besides flattening houses and snapping communication lines nationwide.
Over 60 per cent of the crops in the affected areas have been completely destroyed due to the cyclone Sidr as the government deployed army helicopters, navy boats and thousands of troops to join global agencies and locals in the rescue operation.
A private TV station reported that the toll had crossed 2,000 while the officials said it stood at 1,784. But authorities fear that the toll may rise as more rescuers reach the worst affected areas.
At least 1.5 million villages have been moved to shelters where they are being provided food and other basic amenities, officials said.
The cyclone damaged standing crops on around five lakh hectares of land in the south and south-western districts, causing a loss of around six lakh tonnes of food-crops.
The existing food crisis, which occurred due to the floods earlier this year, became worse as over 60 per cent of crops were completely destroyed, a primary assessment by the agriculture ministry stated.
The field-level agriculture officers have been asked to submit detailed reports on damage to the crops in the areas under their jurisdiction within 10 days.
"Thursday's storm was a huge blow to the country's already sluggish economy. Casualties were less compared to those in the previous cyclones, but economically the losses are extensive," said an agriculture official.
Economists have suggested that the government provide food for those affected in Thursday's storm till the next harvest.
Agriculturists feared that it would be difficult for farmers, who have already been hit hard by two prolonged floods in the July-September period, to make up for their losses.