The death toll in Bangladesh has eclipsed 3,100, according to press accounts this afternoon, and it could rise to 10,000 or higher, according to aid groups working with Bangladeshis displaced by the storm. As many as 2.7 million people have been put out of their homes, according to the Mirror of London, though other aid agencies and news services put the number somewhat lower.
The Bangladesh Red Crescent Society warned that the toll could hit 10,000 as it and other groups tally the missing and reach remote areas that have yet to be assessed. Save the Children, according to Newsday and the Daily Telegraph, estimated the toll could reach 15,000.
Cyclone Sidr made landfall with Category 4-strength winds on Friday, destroying more than 40,000 homes (as many as 750,000), wrecking prawn and cattle farms, and destroying rice fields just as they neared harvest. Disease and famine are now chief concerns, even as aid workers struggle to reach remote populations that have yet to be helped.
International aid is pouring in, with the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, Britain, China, Japan and other nations having contributed. The Bangladeshi government has appealed for aid, not only for relief from Cyclone Sidr, but from two floods that preceded it, claiming 1,000 lives and affecting 16 million.
Cyclone Sidr was the worst hurricane to strike Bangladesh since 1991, when more than 130,000 died. A massive effort to house people in shelters ahead of the storm this time saved countless lives, but experts have warned that the toll from cyclones such as this will rise in the future, as the Bangladeshi population grows and global warming leads to higher sea levels that will lead to more destructive flooding and storm surges. Some national security experts have warned that a resulting refugee crisis could cause political instability in the region.
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