Cyclone Sidr: Death Toll Now Exceeds That of Sept 11 Attacks
"We really got to make sure that we educate - not just the [local] people, but also ourselves," explained Nick Downie. Downie, a British national, had come as Operations Co-ordinator for an alliance of Save the Children
charities from around the world to come and help those affected by
Cyclone Sidr. I had accompanied Downie for a day, earlier last week, to
a remote region of the disaster area that could only be reached by
either boat or helicopter.
The location for Downie's plea for education could not have been more
imposing. We had just walked for 30 minutes along a path full of
make-shift refugee housing and buried bodies. The largest grave we had
found had over 13 newly buried bodies - over two-thirds of which were
children. In the middle of the interview, I interrupted him. There was
a powerful smell that made it almost impossible for me to breath. "Is
that smell the dead bodies? Or the dirty water?" I asked...
With the official death toll currently being reported at 3,268 (source:
Bloomberg.com), the loss of life caused by Cyclone Sidr already exceeds
that of the September 11th attacks. With new bodies being found
everyday - a great many of them children - the official death toll is
most certainly expected to exceed the total number of coalition
causalities caused by the Iraq War. However, despite the ever
increasing scale of this tragedy, the plight of Bangladeshis affected
by Cyclone Sidr seem to have faded from international headlines.
Although I am reporting from Dhaka, I often rely on British and
American news sources for the latest facts and figures. However,
finding the latest news on Cyclone Sidr from CNN and BBC
is almost impossible. This is strange given that the story is anything
but over. During my time in the field, I was fortunate enough to have
not stumbled across any dead human bodies. A great many of my
colleagues, however, were not so fortunate. Even as late as yesterday
night, I was hearing reports of new bodies being found and in need of
Although generous people from around the world are uniting to help
donate to disaster relief, aid is still slow in coming. On my trip to
the Bagerhat Disaster Area, I had brought 70 blankets which I had paid
for with my own money to give away. 30 of which, I brought along with
my trip with Nick Downie to this remote region of the disaster area. It
turns out, that these 30 blankets were the first aid (of its kind) in
this particular region. Whatever sense of accomplishment I felt was
overridden by grief. 30 blankets never seemed so little an amount in my
"We're very comfortable back in our homes - whether we're in London or
Toronto," explained Downie - referring to our respective hometowns. "We
just got to do whatever we can," he added.
One thing is certain - we certainly can do more than just provide a 30 second spot for this news story.
With thanks to the NowPublic Community.
Reporting from Dhaka - NowPublic Member Uncultured.
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[Ed. Note - uncultured's video documentary is a must see]