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Last Updated: Monday, 19 November 2007, 14:21 GMT
'The most devastating storm of our lives'
Cyclone Sidr has killed more than 3,000 people in Bangladesh and has left millions homeless.

Although rescue teams have reached most of the areas affected, many survivors are still short of food and water.

Here, people in Bangladesh describe the effect the cyclone is having on rural communities.


The area we came to yesterday is very badly affected by the cyclone. There are many dead bodies, both human and animal, that we are currently trying to remove.

Photo of damaged road sent by François de Ryckel
François de Ryckel sent this photo from Fardipur near Barisal
We've supplied people with drinking water and food. Tomorrow we'll do cash-for-work - we'll pay survivors to clear the area around their own houses and nearby roads.

Many houses are destroyed. More than 50 people in the village are dead and many more are still missing. There is a brick road, that has been completely destroyed by the water. Bricks were removed and thrown away - such was the power of the water.

Yesterday I went to the district of Bagerhat, where we found two bodies - one of a forest guard and one of a 60-year-old lady, underneath the ruins of her home. I saw that all the electric pillars on the way have fallen - it will take a long time to repair them.

People are emotionally destroyed
We met a man, who was crying - his banana garden was destroyed and he was devastated as he had taken a credit from an NGO for it.

Many people are suffering huge material losses. We are obviously worried about the immediate impact this calamity is going to have on communities - like the urgent need for water, food and shelter.

But there's also another problem - long-term livelihoods are destroyed. People are emotionally destroyed.

The poorest people will be taken care of, but those in the lower middle classes will be hard hit, as they probably won't receive compensation for their losses.


We weren't so badly affected here in Chittagong - we had a power cut for about two days, just like the rest of the country and there were problems with the water supply. But this is nothing compared to what happened in rural coastal areas.

Coastal residents take cover at the Chila cyclone shelter near Mongla port, in Bangladesh, on Thursday
Many people are taking cover in state-provided cyclone shelters
My hometown of Khulna was greatly affected. I've still got family there and they update me on the situation. Most of the houses there are tin sheds - very easy to be damaged.

Most of them did get damaged, apart from those made of strong concrete. Trees have also been badly damaged - most of the trees have been uprooted.

Everything is in a pretty messed-up state.

Many people spend the nights under the sky. The government is trying to arrange temporary accommodation, but how can you provide for such a large number of victims? How can you feed so many people?

I personally think they are doing a fantastic job. Cyclones hit Bangladesh every year and in the past the government would never take preventive measures. They would act once the disaster struck.

This time, we had two days of notice that there's a strong cyclone coming our way, so that many people could leave low-lying coastal areas.


I was away from home when Sidr hit my home village. I speak to my parents every day and they told me that our house was partially destroyed and many of our trees have fallen.

The wind was very strong and the damage is huge. Lots of houses in the village were damaged too.

My parents haven't received any aid from the government, because there are poorer people who need the help more urgently and although partially destroyed, they still live in our house.

The damage is so big, we haven't even started to think how we can meet the cost.


Damaged houses, photo by François de Ryckel
An estimated one million families are thought to have been affected
Sidr is still hunting us. This is the first time in three days that I'm able to sit in front of computer because of power cuts. We've never experienced such situation before.

Most of my relatives are living in Patukhali - one of the badly affected districts.

They experienced a terrible storm which uprooted most of the trees, ruined the paddy fields and damaged their homes. We were only able to see the wreckage last night on TV.

My grandparents live 76km away from the sea shore, yet they experienced what they said was the most devastating storm of their lives.

The communication is cut off. We can't go there from Dhaka because roads are blocked and there's no bus service.

Every year when there's a natural calamity, we collect aid - money and clothes, to send to affected people. We doing that this time as well.

UN relief co-ordinator speaks of devastation in Bangladesh

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