Tornado in Northwest Bangladesh DER synthesized report 22 Mar 2005

from Local Consultative Group - Bangladesh
Published on 22 Mar 2005

- DER Group sources of information: ActionAid Bangladesh, BRAC, Disaster Forum, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), NIRAPAD, and Rangpur Dinajpur Rural Service (RDRS).
- Primary sources of information (i.e. local NGOs present on the ground): Gana Unnayan Kendra (GUK), Samaj Kallyan Sangstha (SKS), and UDDYOG.

1. Disaster Impact

Just after 7 pm on Sun 20 Mar 05 a tornado caused by a short-lived but strong nor'wester followed by a hailstorm killed 35-40 Including 10 children, 11 women and 19 men. and injured up to 4,000 people, 200 seriously. The destruction is concentrated in Sadullahpur Upazila (Naldanga Union which had 29 deaths) and Sundarganj Upazila (Dhopadanga and Sarbananda Unions which had 4 deaths) in Gaibandha District, and Mithapukur and Pirganj Upazilas (Mirzapur and Haripur, which had a total of 2 deaths) in Rangpur District. The number of people made homeless is estimated at least 5,000 families or 25,000 people. The death toll may still rise, as not all the collapsed houses have been searched yet.

Along a 3-5 km swathe the tornado completely destroyed thousands of houses including 200 shops, as well as 135 head of livestock, 60 acres/24 hectares of standing crops (rice and wheat), and infrastructure such as power lines. The road between Gaibandha Sadar and Sundarganj was blocked by fallen trees.

2. Response to Date

Rescue and casualty evacuation work has been carried out by (Upazila level) local government first responders such as the police, Fire Brigade, health workers and a local NGO -- UDDYOG -- the latter rescuing almost 1,000 people. Four medical teams (each of 4 persons) from Samaj Kallyan Sangstha (SKS) and Jibita Bangladesh, local NGOs in Gaibandha were on the scene within hours of the impact. Hundreds of injured locals were rushed to Rangpur Medical College Hospital and to Gaibandha, Sundarganj and Sadullahpur health complexes. The condition of 28 was reported to be critical.

Gaibandah DC and the UNOs of Sadullahpur and Sundarganj have visited the affected area, together with the local Member of Parliament, and an assessment of affected people's needs is now ongoing. Reports are expected to be submitted to the authorities and to DER member agencies by their partner NGOs early on 22 Mar.

DER members have reported their own immediate response as follows:

a. BDRCS/IFRC is currently doing a rapid assessment. Trucks departed Dhaka last night with Family kits (which include plastic sheeting) and other relief items.

b. BRAC is working in the affected areas and is distributing dry food to the value of Tk. 20,000. A further Tk. 10,000 has been allocated for the burial of dead bodies.

c. GUK joined other local NGOs and the emergency services in the initial search and rescue effort, and its emergency medical team is engaged in the support of 100 affected persons. GUK has distributed dry food (biscuits, flattened rice and molasses) to 2,000 families and polythene sheets to 63 families in Sadullahpur and Sundarganj Upazilas for immediate shelter purposes, and it is still conducting disaster assessment activities.

d. RDRS has sent one medical team to Gaibandha, plus 20 cartoons of high-protein biscuits, 300 sarees, 300 lungis and 100 tarpaulins. For Rangpur they have despatched 10 cartoons biscuits, 200 sarees, 200 lungis and 50 tarpaulins. RDRS have met with the two District Deputy Commissioners (DCs) to discuss the damage and needs. Depending on their findings they may extend more support.

3. Immediate Needs

The primary immediate need is for mobile medical teams, equipped with appropriate medical supplies and drugs to manage the large number of injuries. Secondary immediate needs are for temporary shelter materials, clean water supplies and adequate sanitation provision, dry food and non-food relief items such as household goods. Counselling (preferably by local health workers) will be needed, especially for injured children and those of bereaved and other severely affected families. Livestock have also been injured and require veterinary care.

In the longer term households will need assistance with rebuilding their homes.

4. Future Intentions

Gaibandha and Rangpur District DCs have asked the Army to provide assistance.

The DER Group anticipates that some thousands of families will have been affected by the tornado. A detailed sector assessment may be required but is not being mobilized yet. Instead, all members are requested to submit any relevant reports they receive to the Secretariat, which will disseminate them to the Group. A collective response may still be warranted, and this will be decided at the next DER activity, which is a workshop on the DER Group's assessment processes and forms, on Wed 23 Mar.

DER Secretariat