Military ships and helicopters are trying to reach thousands of people believed to be stranded on islands in the Bay of Bengal and in coastal areas that have been cut off.
“However, it can be reduced by managing better the preparedness, not just the response. The response I think is quite well managed.”
“Clearly, the numbers show it could have been worse, the storm surge was quite quite strong”
Salvano Briceno, head of the UN’s International Strategy for Disaster Reduction
Before cyclone Sidr hit, the government activated its early warning and preparedness systems, evacuating about 3.2 million people from along the coastline in 15 districts.
|The UN and the European Commission have
pledged emergency aid to Bangladesh [AFP]
Residents in southern districts near the coast told of their terror as they bore the brunt of the storm.
Fulmala Begum, 40, said she was not warned to evacuate and had to take refuge under a bed with her husband and two children as the storm roared around her.
“Five hours later we found ourselves under a heap of tin roofs and two huge trees. Not a single house in my village was spared the catastrophe,” she said.
Another cyclone in 1970 killed up to half a million people.
But officials are hoping the death toll, while high, will not reach the scale of previous disasters because of a network of cyclone shelters and an early-warning and evacuation system.