Bangladesh cyclone claims 2217 lives
Dhaka, Nov 18: Super cyclone SIDR has killed 2217 people in Bangladesh's coastal districts even as rescuers were looking frantically for thousands of those who went missing.
The Food and Disaster Management Ministry put the death toll at 2217. However, rescuers and local journalists who visited the worst hit offshore islands feared the casualty figure will go up further as thousands of villagers mostly fishermen were still missing.
Air force helicopters, navy ships and coast guards are making desperate efforts to rescue people and transport aid to the cyclone-hit population.
Mongla Navy Commander Rezaul Karim said they rescued 110 floating fishermen from the sea today. These fishermen survived by holding onto plastic drums they used to carry drinking water.
Food and Disaster Management acting secretary Ayub Miah said Bangladesh's development partners assured the government of assistance in carrying out relief and rehabilitation programme.
US President George W Bush and his wife Laura have conveyed condolences to the Bangladesh cyclone victims, as Washington offered an initial grant of 2.1 million dollars for emergency relief, a US embassy statement said.
Additionally, the USS Essex and the USS Kearsarge are on the way to Bangladesh to assist in relief and rescue operations, it added.
UNDP would provide 7 million dollars while World Food Programme (WFP) allocated 10,000 metric tonnes of rice and 200 tonnes of high protein biscuits.