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Last Updated: Monday, 19 November 2007, 19:38 GMT
Aid battle for Bangladesh victims
A boy waits for treatment at Potuakhali, 18 November 2007
Bangladesh's government says aid is now reaching remote areas

Rescue and relief teams have reached most of the remote areas of Bangladesh affected by one of the worst cyclones in recent years, officials say.

But the situation on the ground remains grim, with untold numbers of desperate survivors still short of the most basic necessities of food and drinking water.

Cyclone Sidr has killed more than 3,000 people and millions are now homeless.

The country's interim leader Fakhruddin Ahmed has visited some of the worst-hit areas, as foreign aid pledges pour in.

The Bangladeshi minister in charge of disaster management, Tapan Chowdhury, told the BBC that his administration had received offers of $140m (70m) worth of international emergency aid.

The government has now been able to make food drops to places which were not reachable immediately after the cyclone, he said.

Basic necessities

Cyclone Sidr, which struck late on Thursday, brought winds of up to 240km/h (150mph) and a tidal surge of several metres.

It brought down power lines and wiped out vital crops.

We have no food, we are trying to survive with eating whatever is edible that we can lay our hands on
Survivor

Some 500,000 homes have been destroyed, and 845,000 households have been affected, according to the British Red Cross.

Bangladesh's Red Crescent society says up to 10,000 may have died.

Tens of thousands of survivors are now struggling for basic necessities like tents, rice, medicines and drinking water.

Mr Chowdhury says the government is working to provide shelter and help with rebuilding, as well as setting up a programme to re-stock the country's farms with seeds and fertiliser.

But the BBC's Mark Dummet in Bangladesh says many remote communities along the south-western coast say they have not yet received any help.

Coastal Bangladesh is a maze of waterways, creeks, islands and sandbanks and the only way to get help to the hundreds of thousands of survivors of the massive storm is by boat.

The BBC's Alastair Lawson, who is also in the country, says some survivors have not been able to eat since the storm struck, and that he has witnessed villagers fighting over rice.

One survivor told the BBC: "We have no food, we are trying to survive with eating whatever is edible that we can lay our hands on.

'Quick reaction'

Among major donors is Saudi Arabia, which has pledged $100m in aid. The UK is sending $5m and the US will provide $2m in aid, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has announced.

A spokesman for the UN World Food Programme in Bangladesh, which is overseeing the aid operation, said agencies had reacted "quickly and swiftly".

Satellite map of affected area, and the path of Cyclone Sidr

The government has denied suggestions that it is not up to the relief task.

Its early-warning system is being credited with saving many lives, but the damage to property and crops has been massive.

Officials say that in many areas 95% of rice which was awaiting harvest has been destroyed, and shrimp farms and other crops were simply washed away.

Cyclone Sidr comes just a few months after floods devastated the north of the country.

Southern Bangladesh is hit every year by cyclones and floods, but Cyclone Sidr is the most destructive storm to hit the country in more than a decade.

Another storm in 1991 left some 143,000 dead.



VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
UN relief co-ordinator speaks of devastation in Bangladesh



SEE ALSO
Bangladesh cyclone hits poor hardest
18 Nov 07 |  South Asia
Animated guide: Hurricanes
01 Jun 05 |  Science/Nature
What is the South Asia monsoon?
03 Aug 07 |  South Asia

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