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Bangladesh - 10,000 dikhuatiri korban

Bangladesh: 10,000 feared dead

Al-Jazeera, Nov 19 - Up to 10,000 people are feared to have died in Bangladesh's worst cyclone in more than a decade. "Based on our experience ... and reports from the scene I would guess the death toll may be as high as 10,000," Mohammad Abdur Rob, the chairman of the Bangladeshi Red Crescent Society, said.

Relief workers are working on Monday to get aid to millions of people left homeless by cyclone Sidr which struck on Thursday. The storm's 250kph winds wrecked tens of thousands of homes across the south and centre of the country, creating a six-metre high tidal wave that flooded the regions.

"The death toll has already reached 3,000 confirmed dead," Mohammad Rob said.

Death toll rising

Heather Blackwell from Oxfam told Al Jazeera: "The numbers of the death toll is rising and there has been a sharp increase in the last 24 hours.

"There are a lot of areas we still haven't reached."

Owen Fey, an Al Jazeera correspondent reporting from the remote southern village of Harimpala in Bangladesh, said, "as soon we arrived here the scenes of devestation were everywhere.

"Their entire rice crop for the year has been destroyed.

"We could hear the sounds of women wailing as we walked in. Men described scenes of the cyclone itself, how the water levels rose to their throats, washing children away."

In southern Bangladesh, the bloated corpses of people and animals dotted the landscape, raising fears of disease, while untold numbers of survivors were short of food and water.

Many of the deaths were caused by the tidal wave and by flying debris and falling trees that crushed flimsy bamboo and tin homes, the best that many people in the country can afford.

Abdul Zabbar, a teacher in Barguna district, 200km south of the capital Dhaka, said survivors might not be able to hold out for long.

"There is no food and drinking water. Bodies are still floating in the rivers and paddy fields," he said, adding the rice harvest, representing four months of food, had been washed away.

Sattar Gazi, another farmer, said: "I lost six of my family members in the cyclone. I am afraid that the remaining three of us will die of hunger."

Race against time

Relief workers were racing to get aid to stricken areas five days after the storm hit.

Soliders have been drafted in to help the relief operation but many roads have been blocked or washed away by the tidal wave that broke across the coast along with cyclone Sidr.

"In the remote areas it is slow-going," said Douglas Casson Coutts of the World Food Programme.

"They are almost chopping trees as they go along."

The massive rescue effort has attracted help from around the world, but relief items, including tents, rice and water, were slow to reach many survivors.
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