In Bangladesh: 650,000 Evacuated Before Cyclone Hit
November 21, 2007
On the evening of Thursday, November 15, the cyclone in the Bay of Bengal that weather monitors had been tracking nervously for two days as it increased in intensity reached the coast of Bangladesh with a fury. Cyclone Sidr battered the coast with 150-mile per hour winds and a tidal surge that lifted waters ten feet or more higher than normal, submerging lands that lie inches above sea level, uprooting mangrove forests, and sweeping away fragile homes, crops, and the lives of human and animal victims who failed to reach shelter as the storm arrived in the cloak of darkness.
As the cyclone subsided in the dawn hours, television news carried shocking images of the destruction wrought by the cyclone in accessible areas, while rescue teams struggled to reach remote communities in the mangrove forests of the Sundarban region that were most exposed and worst hit. The official death toll has crossed 3,000 and may increase as rescue efforts continue. More than 4 million people have been affected by the cyclone, losing homes and property, livestock, and rice and other crops that were nearly ready for the winter harvest. Relief efforts mounted by government, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and the international community are now racing to provide safe water, food, medicine, clothes, and other essential supplies to communities along the coast, while plans take shape for the longer process of recovery and restoration of a shattered infrastructure.
While the suffering experienced by those who lost loved ones, homes, livelihoods, and modest possessions is a tragedy by any measure, the positive news that emerges in relative terms is that advances in emergency preparedness since the last major cyclonic storms claimed 140,000 lives on the coast in 1991 and 300,000 in 1971 helped to avert potential tragedy on a similar scale. Eyewitness accounts suggest that Sidr was the most violent cyclone in living memory. Satellite storm tracking provided adequate notice as the cyclone approached, and the government and NGO warning networks sent signals out across the coastal zone for people to abandon their homes and seek shelter in the purpose-built concrete shelters on piers that now line the coastal region or wherever they could. More than 650,000 were evacuated to safety, hinting at the scale of lives saved that a decade ago might have been lost to the cyclone.
While the millions affected face a tremendous challenge in rebuilding homes, fragile agricultural and fishing livelihoods, small businesses, and infrastructure, they are alive and ready to focus the extraordinary Bangladeshi resilience on the rebuilding effort.
For more information on Give2Asia’s Disaster Recovery Fund:
Kim McQuay is The Asia Foundation’s Country Representative in Bangladesh.
About our blog, In AsiaIn Asia is a weekly in-depth, in-country resource for readers who want to stay abreast of significant events and issues shaping Asia\’s development, hosted by The Asia Foundation. Drawing on the first-hand insight of over 70 renowned experts in over 20 countries, In Asia delivers concentrated analysis on issues affecting each region of Asia, as well as Foundation-produced reports and polls.
In Asia is posted and distributed every Wednesday evening, Pacific Time and is accessible via email and RSS. If you have any questions, please send an email to email@example.com.
ContactFor questions about In Asia, or for our cross-post and re-use policy, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Asia Foundation
465 California St., 9th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94104
PO Box 193223
San Francisco, CA 94119-3223
HIGHLIGHTS ACROSS ASIA
More than Uncertainty Drives Afghan Migrants to the West
November 15, 2017
Toon Bodyslam: Just What Thailand Needs
November 15, 2017
ABC News: Afghans Slightly More Optimistic Despite Turmoil
November 14, 2017
The Asia Foundation Releases 2017 Survey of the Afghan People
November 14, 2017
Foreign Affairs Reviews China’s Governance Puzzle
November 2, 2017
Washington, DC Public Program: The Asia Foundation’s 2017 Survey of the Afghan People
Tuesday, November 14, 2017