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Bangladesh- women searched for drinking water after Cyclone Aila hits

A water logged Bangladeshi woman in search of drinking water after the cyclone Aila hit leaving at least 20 dead and 100 were missing at Gabura, Satkhira 26 May 2009. The death toll rises 34 in several coast line areas as most of the houses, crops field, cattle have been washed away during the cyclone.


Picture date: 26 May 09

Picture credit ABIR ABDULLAH/Oxfam


Additional information


Oxfam researcher Sandhya Suri was in the Gabura area of Bangladesh when Cyclone Aila struck on 26 May 09. Here, her eye-witness account shows the devastating human cost of disasters – which are expected to get worse as extreme weather gets more intense and frequent as a result of climate change.


“As we approached Gabura we could see a major break in the embankment. The embankment broke around 11.30 am yesterday, before the high tide even arrived. Following this, cyclone Aila passed the area at high-tide, causing even more destruction with a tidal surge of between seven and nine feet.


“There were multiple breaks. Now the entire Gabura union is under water. At the main embankment, water is gushing at an immense speed, increasing its intensity with the tide. Hundreds of people are hungry and thirsty. Local shopkeepers are not opening up for fear of looting. Lenin, the chairman of Gabura Union told us that children had not even seen a biscuit since yesterday.


“Many are trying to leave, others hang on, resolute on guarding their belongings. For this reason, there are few people in the cyclone shelters. The whole area is water-logged. There are dead domestic animals floating in the water.


“We were taken by boat to near the shelter where 13 corpses were laid out: eight children, the rest women. A man was still searching for his six-month-old child's body, washed from his lap during the cyclone. They were still searching for many dead bodies.


“As high tide approached we saw many more people with their belongings on boats leaving the place, stating that the water level will go up by another 2 feet at least and there is no way they can stay here. Another corpse of a man was discovered. His body, along with the 13 mentioned before, were brought across the river to Bangshipur for their funeral.


“The Army is now in the area and some water is coming in for people to drink. Tonight (Tuesday evening) an Oxfam team will be arriving to assess what more can be done to bring crucial help to the community.”


More at: www.oxfam.org/climatechange

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Taken on May 26, 2009