Virtual Voices

Cyclone Sidr rips up coast

Newsworthy

Cyclone Sidr's 180 mph winds have stirred up twenty-foot tidal waves, ripping apart the low-lying coast of Bangladesh and forcing 1 million people from their homes.

The cyclone is the worst to hit Bangladesh in ten years and has claimed over 3,000 lives so far. Sattar Gazi, a farmer who lost six family members, told the Telegraph, "I am afraid that the rest of us will die of hunger." Officials echo his fear, saying the death count may climb to 10,000 by the time relief workers can travel over fallen trees and across washed-out roads to remote areas.

Dean Owen, director of corporate communications for World Vision, told WoW that relief is slowly reaching these areas. World Vision helped 20,000 people to shelter and is planning a $600,000 relief effort for 100,000 families. It has given rice and sugar to 2,500 families and is putting together seven-day emergency relief packs of water, rice, potatoes, sugar, oil, salt, blankets, mattresses, clothing, oral re-hydration salts and candles. Vince Edwards, Bangladesh national director, said when the storm passes, World Vision staff "will be going out to assess the damage and the needs."

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The damage includes crop destruction and the needs will include long-term hunger aid. Telegraph says that in the areas hit worst, winds leveled 95 percent of the rice crops and prawn farms. In 1974, nearly a million people died after floods washed away crops, but Edwards said the government's better-prepared disaster management units will lead to a lower death count.

Owen called the crisis "an opportunity for us to demonstrate Christ's love to those we serve." Other Christian agencies are lending a hand as well. Ekklesia reports that the Christian Commission for Development in Bangladesh (CCDB) helped move the island of Moheshkali into one of CCDB's 44 cyclone shelters. Christian Aid supports their efforts and the work of four other organizations providing medical help, food, and cash to evacuated communities.

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