B'desh facing catastrophe after SIDR: govt chief

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Dhaka, Nov 20 (UNI)Bangladesh's caretaker government Chief Advisor Fakhruddin Ahmed has declared that the nation was facing a great catastrophe caused by deadly hurricane SIDR and called on all disregarding party affiliation, to stand beside the distressed humanity.

''There is no alternative to concerted efforts to effectively combat this national catastrophe,'' he said yesterday while addressing the nation, five days after the SIDR lashed country's south and southwestern coastal districts.

Nearly 3,000 people were killed, thousands missing and millions rendered homeless following the cyclone that slammed the coast with a wind speed of 240 kmph within months of a terrible monsoon flooding.

Dr Fakhruddin cancelled his visit to Uganda to attend the Commonwealth Summit scheduled on November 23-25, saying it was not wise to leave the country even for a small period of time in view of the present disaster.

He expressed the hope that all irrespective of party affiliation would come forward in helping the distressed people.

He urged the business community to prove their social accountability and check the price-hike of essential commodities.

The Chief Advisor said the government was trying to deal with the post-cyclone situation with its own resources. But given the resource constraints, he said the government would welcome assistance from Bangladesh's friendly countries and development partners.

Dhaka made an appeal to the international community yestreday to assist the cyclone-hit people.

Donor countries and agencies pledged over 140 million dollars till Sunday as emergency aid. The US is sending two naval ships on November 24 and 27 with helicopters, medical team and evacuation teams on board to join the relief operation.

Dr Fakhruddin said the government has set up an effective mechanism so that the relief material reached the affected people for their primary rehabilitation.

''It would be fruitful if any assistance is channeled through the government,'' he added.

The storm affected more than 40,00,000 people and destroyed standing crops, demolished 9,00,000 houses, perished innumerable cattle heads and damaged a large part of the world's largest mangrove forest ''Sundarbans''.

UNI

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