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Oxfam Aust. Responds To Bangladesh Cyclone Sidr

Oxfam Australia responds to Cyclone Sidr in Bangladesh

Thousands of lives have been lost, but many more saved in cyclone shelters during the worst cyclone to hit Bangladesh in fifteen years.

Current reports estimate that the death toll may be as high as fifteen thousand after the worst cyclone in Bangladesh since 1991. Despite the severity of the disaster, people were able to take refuge in cyclone shelters which saved countless lives.

"The last time a cyclone this strong hit Bangladesh, in 1991, over 138,000 people were killed. Since then the government, aid agencies and local organisations have worked hard to help people prepare for disasters and this is reflected in the much lower death toll," said Heather Blackwell, Head of Oxfam in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh had already lost crops in northern and central areas after severe floods in July. Oxfam fears the combined impact of these two disasters on one of the world's poorest countries could be massive. The cyclone damaged power and communications networks, killed livestock and caused tidal surges which swept away scores of people.

"The geography of Bangladesh means that it is very disaster prone, however there are many things that aid agencies can and have been doing to prepare for disasters such as these," Peter Chamberlain, Manager, South Asia Programs, Oxfam Australia.

In response to the latest disaster, Oxfam Australia announced today that have contributed AUD$100 000 to the relief effort. These funds will go towards providing urgently food and shelter to tens of thousands of people. The massive loss and damage to crops - estimated at between 50 - 95% in coastal zones - will have devastating effects on the country both in the immediate and long-term future.

Oxfam's assessments show immediate needs are dry foods, shelter, clothes and water and sanitation facilities. Assessment teams have found people are returning to their homes from the evacuation shelters, only to find their houses are devastated. They have been assembling make-shift housing from the debris or sleeping in the open-air.


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