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Cablegate: Bangladesh Cyclone Sidr Sitrep for November 19

VZCZCXRO0540
OO RUEHCI
DE RUEHKA #1808/01 3240049
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 200049Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY DHAKA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5571
INFO RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 9339
RUEHCI/AMCONSUL KOLKATA 0980
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 0270
RUEHGO/AMEMBASSY RANGOON 2584
RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO 8148
RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK 8235
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 1877
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 0373
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0556
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUEKDIA/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RHHMUNA/USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 DHAKA 001808

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR SES-O
DEPT FOR SCA/PB, SCA/EX
DCHA/OFDA FOR ROBERT THAYER
AID/W FOR AA MARK WARD AND ANE ANNE DIX
DCHA/FFP FOR MATTHEW NIMS AND PAUL NOVICK
ROME FOR FODAG
BANGKOK FOR RDM/A TOM DOLAN, ROB BARTON
KATHMANDU FOR USAID OFDA BILL BERGER AND SUE MCINTYRE
TREASURY FOR ELIZABETH WEISS AND SUSAN CHUN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PREL ASEC CASC AMGT SOCI ECON PINR EAGR SENV
BG
SUBJECT: BANGLADESH CYCLONE SIDR SITREP FOR NOVEMBER 19

REF: A) DHAKA 1801 B) DHAKA 1797 C) STATE 157623 D) DHAKA 1796 E)
DHAKA-WASHINGTON EMAIL SITREPS OF NOVEMBER 15-16, 2007

1. (U) Summary: The official death toll in Cyclone Sidr rose to
about 3,500 by early afternoon November 19, with local media quoting
the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society chairman as saying the number
could go as high as 10,000. A round-the-clock Embassy cyclone
control room is now staffed by State, Defense and USAID
personnel(telephone: 88-2-885-5500 extensions 2308, 2414 and 2019;
fax: 88-2-882-3744). International contributions to the relief
effort picked up steam, and Mission Dhaka made final preparations
for the one-day visit by the USAID Administrator on November 20. A
MARINE Humanitarian Assistance Survey Team (HAST) arrived November
18 and began its assessment. End Summary.

LOSS OF LIFE

2. (U) As of 2 p.m. November 19 local time, the official Government
of Bangladesh (GOB) death toll from the cyclone was about 3,500,
nearly double the figure from a day earlier as reports streamed in
from more remote regions. Local media reported that the final death
toll was sure to be higher, with many quoting Bangladesh Red
Crescent Society Chairman Mohammad Abdur Rob as saying the figure
could rise to 10,000.

DEVASTATION

3. (U) A USAID team flew over the affected region the morning of
November 19 to get an initial first-hand look at the destruction.
From an altitude of less than 3,000 feet, the team saw scenes of
widespread destruction: Crops were decimated; trees were snapped in
half; only a few buildings remained standing in some villages where
thatch houses had been ripped to shreds. A Marine Humanitarian
Assistance Survey Team (HAST) will make its first reconnaissance
trip to the affected areas on November 20.

THE RELIEF EFFORT

4. (U) The Bangladesh military is coordinating the emergency relief
work. At a November 18 meeting with international donors, the
Ministry of Food and Disaster Management said it had allocated more
than 4,000 metric tons of rice, 5,000 tents, 17,000 blankets and 30
million taka (about US$430,000) in relief grants. Another 350
million taka (about US$5 million) was allocated as house building
grants. The Ministry said its immediate priorities were burying the
dead, restoring roads and telecommunications, and providing food,
baby food, drinking water and other essentials to the cycloneQs
victims. Bangladesh military officials expressed concern about
water-borne epidemics and the possibility of food shortages next
spring resulting from the crop destruction.

5. (SBU) The Armed Forces Division (AFD) of the Bangladesh military
-- similar to the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Q in a meeting with USG
emergency relief personnel on November 19 expressed confidence about
its ability to provide relief to the cyclone-hit areas. The military
has 12 helicopters and three fixed-wing aircraft involved in the
relief efforts along with several navy craft. The AFD said it would
not need much U.S. military aid but asked for two to four
helicopters; should the country be inundated with relief supplies
the demand for outside logistic support would increase. We will
provide Washington our assessment of unique U. S. Military
contributions to the AID effort by Septel.

DHAKA 00001808 002 OF 002

INTERNATIONAL AND USG ASSISTANCE

6. (U) Local media reported that donor nations and agencies had
pledged more than $25 million, with offers of assistance coming from
Europe, India, Pakistan, Canada, Japan and the United Nations. Other
nations offering aid included China, which announced $1 million in
emergency relief, and Australia, which announced an initial tranche
of nearly US$2.7 million to relief organizations.

USG ASSISTANCE

7. (U) Print and broadcast media gave prominent play to President
BushQs message of condolence and to initial USG relief efforts.
Leaders of major political parties who were briefed on USG
activities expressed gratitude for the assistance. The one-day visit
by USAID Administrator Henrietta Fore on November 20, during which
she will fly over the cyclone-hit region and hand over relief
supplies, will include several media events. One will highlight the
arrival of 35 metric tons of USAID hygiene kits, plastic sheets,
blankets, jerry cans.

PASI

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