More than 3,000 people have been reported dead and over 2,000 are missing, but numbers are rising fast as the full effects of the cyclone become clear.
Most deaths were caused by the huge tidal surge that plunged into coastal villages and towns, filling the air with debris and flattening bamboo and tin houses.
Vicious 250kph winds tore down homes, schools and power lines. Roads and bridges were also seriously damaged by the cyclone.
Reaching affected areas
Communication networks are slowly being restored, making it easier for aid agencies and the government to reach all the affected areas.
Shortages of food, water and medicine are raising fears that diseases will spread fast. Dead bodies and rotten trees are also lying in many water sources, pushing the threat of disease even higher.
At the moment, survivors are most at risk from waterborne diseases such as cholera and diarrhea, but with the onset of winter, people will also become vulnerable to cold-related illnesses, such as pneumonia.
Crops wiped out
The massive tidal surge contaminated water sources with saltwater and swept away entire harvests of crops.
Around 1 million acres of crops have been destroyed, leaving hundreds of people with little to eat and no means to earn a living. In some areas, whole paddy fields have been swept away, wiping out four months of food. There are concerns that food shortages may continue to March/April 2008.
Looking to the future
Sidr has been reported as the worst disaster to hit Bangladesh since 1991, when a massive cyclone killed 143,000 people.
Disaster preparedness measures have since been put in place, allowing millions of people to be evacuated before Sidr hit land. This prevented loss of life on the same scale as 1991, however hundreds of thousands of people will still return to their homes to find the destruction that Sidr caused.
Some people have lost everything they owned in an instant and it will take months, even years, to rebuild their lives.
Islamic Relief Emergency Response
Islamic Relief (IR) has launched an urgent appeal for £3 million to help people affected by the cyclone.
IR is planning a two-phased response, encompassing emergency relief and recovery projects. Phase 1 will include emergency distributions of food, blankets, jerry cans and shelter kits. Phase 2 will have more of a long-term focus, involving shelter and livelihoods recovery.
IR has allocated £500,000 for the initial emergency response, which is focused in Bagherhat and Patuakhali districts as these were two of the worst-affected areas.
- In Bagerhat and Patuakhali, IR has distributed emergency relief packages to 2,773 families so far. More distributions are planned for the coming weeks;
- Each family received plastic sheets, 5kg pre-cooked rice, 1 kg molasses, 1 kg salt, one box of matches and 6 candles;
- 1,200 families in Patuakhali have received 5kg rice and 1kg lentils;
- Working in partnership with the UN Development Programme, IR has distributed 5kg pre-cooked rice and 1kg molasses to 5,000 families in Chandpur district.;
- The Arab Medical Union has contributed $20,000 USD for a three-month programme in Bagherhat and Patuakhali;
- IR has 2 medical teams active in the field, providing essential medical care to cyclone survivors in Bagerhat and Patuakhali;
- Both teams are equipped with medicine and medical equipment and comprise a doctor, two nurses, a paramedic and a volunteer;
- The medical teams have treated more than 700 people so far;
- IR and European Commission for Humanitarian Aid (ECHO)
- ECHO has contributed 350,000 Euros for a three-month programme in Bagherhat and Patuakhali;
- 8,500 families will receive emergency shelter materials and 30kg rice, 5kg lentils, 2kg salt and 2 litres cooking oil;
- 3,200 families will receive a family kit which comprises clothes for men and women, a blanket, cooking pots and utensils, and soap and sanitary items.;
Volunteers from IR’s community-based disaster preparedness programme have been active on the ground since Thursday. Before the cyclone hit, IR volunteers were helping evacuate people into shelters and they are now working with local authorities on the relief effort.
Cyclone Sidr hit Bangladesh only months after half the country was submerged under floodwaters. IR has been carrying out a flood emergency response since June 2007 and the project is currently in its final stages.
There is an urgent need for food, clean water, shelter and medicine.
Your donation can help IR reach more people affected by the cyclone.