BARGUNA, Bangladesh-Agencies: (19/11.2007) – The death toll from Bangladesh’s most devastating storm in a decade climbed to at least 2,400 on Monday and relief officials warned the figure could jump sharply as rescuers reach more isolated areas.
The Bangladesh Red Crescent Society, the Islamic equivalent of the Red Cross, said that it believed the toll could hit 10,000 once rescuers reach islands off the coast of the low-lying river delta nation.
Government officials defended the relief efforts and expressed confidence that authorities are up to the task.
The government said it has allocated $5.2 million in emergency aid for rebuilding houses.
Many foreign governments and international groups have pledged to help, including the United States, which offered $2.1 million and the United Nations, which promised $7 million.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced his mounting concern yesterday at the trail of devastation and increasing death toll left by Cyclone Sidr and he stressed that the United Nations stands ready to do all it can to help in the relief effort.
UN humanitarian agencies on the ground in Bangladesh are already responding to the basic needs of some of the hundreds of thousands of people estimated to have been affected, while UN assessment teams are also ready to be deployed.
Many survivors returned to find their bamboo-and-straw huts flattened, their roofs missing, and their crops ruined.
Thanks to an effective early warning system, at least 1.5 million coastal villagers fled to shelters before the storm. Every year, storms batter Bangladesh, a country of 150 million, often killing large numbers of people.