Bangladesh

Bangladesh storm survivors face hunger, disease

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By Syed Mohammad Afzal

BRAHMANBARIA, Bangladesh, May 9 (Reuters) - Five days after the year's worst storm killed at least 23 people and left around 400 injured in a Bangladeshi village, the survivors on Friday were mostly without food, medicine and shelter.

"We are confronting growing hunger and endless pain, and passing time in a nightmare," said Rafiqul Islam, who lost his parents and three other family members.

The storm packing winds up to 120 km (70 miles) per hour and heavy rain and hail struck the Noabadi village in Brahmanbaria district, 180 km (110 miles) east of the capital Dhaka, virtually flattening every house.

The authorities rushed in a few tents and deployed medical teams to treat the injured, but the villagers said they offered little or no medicine free of cost.

"We are too poor to pay for food and medicine. Our homes and crops have both gone," one villager said.

Many of the injured are in hospitals. The others are living out in the open subject to fresh strong wind and rains and children are suffering from fever and coughing, villagers said.

"How long we can live like this," said Islam.

His neighbours were angry at what they called official neglect of their plight and little effort to help them.

Private aid group Proshika and Bangladesh Red Crescent Society are working in the village, home to some 3,000 people, but they were unable to cope with the needs, said a local official who asked not to be named.

A series of storms have swept Bangladesh since the onset of summer in the middle of April, killing at least 100 people and injuring thousands, according to officials and media reports.

The latest storm on Thursday night left dozens injured in the capital and razed many houses in Shaymagram union council area in Brahmanbaria, police on Friday said.

Seasonal storms are common in Bangladesh, one of the world's poorest countries and known for its chronic natural disasters, including devastating cyclones and floods.

"But the summer this year seems to be more ferocious," one weather official in Dhaka said. He said three or four more storms and a couple of cyclones were likely to hit the country during this month.

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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