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Wednesday, 19 June, 2002, 11:31 GMT 12:31 UK
Bangladesh praised for disaster planning
Bangladeshi flood victims
Bangladesh has made substantial progress

Bangladesh's progress in dealing with natural disasters has saved millions of lives over the last decade, according to a Red Cross report.

Red Crescent flood warning poster
Educating the public has been the key to success

The 2002 World Disasters Report, published by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, singles out Bangladesh for particular praise.

Bangladesh has one of the worst records in the world for natural disaster.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed by floods and cyclones, as well as tidal surges, tornadoes, droughts and even cold spells.

But according to the report, the construction of cyclone shelters and speedy evacuation procedures have dramatically improved the country's preparedness.

Lives saved

The biggest killer by far has been cyclones.

In 1991, a cyclone killed nearly 140,000 people, most of them women and children.

Bangladeshi flood victims
Millions of lives have been saved

But since then much progress has been made in preparing for cyclones, by building a series of shelters along the coast, and by making arrangements to evacuate people from affected areas.

The Red Cross spokesman in Bangladesh, John Baines, said that today the chances of being killed in a natural disaster were "significantly" lower.

"And this really reflects the general tenor throughout the world, if you look at the World Disasters Report," he told the BBC.

"The number of lives lost has reduced in the last decade. However, the incidence of disasters has increased," he said.

New initiatives

The success of Bangladesh's cyclone preparedness programme figures prominently in this year's Red Cross and Red Crescent report.

Mr Baines said the challenge now was to replicate its success to put the country in a better position to cope with other natural disasters.

He said that arrangements had been made to compile a comprehensive disaster preparedness programme, which would include initiatives to deal with flooding and earthquakes.

See also:

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