SIDR toll rises to 1723 in Bangladesh

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Dhaka, Nov 17 (UNI) Choppers, gunboats and naval ships were pressed into rescue and relief operations in Bangladesh's coastal districts battered by Thursday's fierce cyclone SIDR as official death figure shot up to 1723.

However, local people and media men after visiting the devastated areas say the casualty figure may go up to 2,000 or more.

Lt Col Main at a press briefing at the army headquarters said the death figure rose to 1723 till 7pm local time today. He said army, navy and air force personnel are conducting relief and rehabilitation works in the affected areas.

Bangladesh Red Crescent Society made an appeal to International Red Cross for four million Swiss francs for relief and rehabilitation in the cyclone hit districts.

"Apart from loss of human lives, we believe a large scale damage has been caused to crops, houses and infrastructure," Devendra Tak, Senior Regional Communications Officer, Red Crescent was quoted by UNB news agency as saying.

He said the Red Crescent is sending relief materials like clothes, dry food, medicine, water purifying tablets in 15 coastal district.

Devendra said 42,000 red crescent volunteers are working in the affected areas.

German government announced 5,00,000 Euro as an immediate assistance for the cyclone victims.

UN agencies are distributing food, water purification tablets, jerry cans and other non-food items among the victims. As initial, immediate assistance, the UN is distributing 208 metric tons of high-energy biscuits, and providing 240,000 water purification tablets, medicines and medical equipment, and other essential goods.

A UN release said as the scope of damage becomes known, more UN assistance will be offered. A team from UN-OCHA arrived today to assist.

Commenting on the situation, Renata Dessallien, UNDP Resident Representative in Bangladesh said, given the force of the cyclone, much assistance will be required to help the survivors in the worst affected districts to recover from the devastation." Caretaker government Chief Advisor Dr Fakhruddin Ahmed held a special cabinet meeting to assess the damages wrought by the tropical cyclone. The government has been distributing relief materials, house building and agriculture loans to recoup the situation.

UNI

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