Death Toll from Bangladesh Cyclone Passes 3,000

The Bangladesh Red Crescent Society, the Islamic equivalent of the Red Cross, warned that the death toll could rise to 10,000 once rescuers reach outlying islands, according to the Associated Press.

Army helicopters carried mostly high-protein cookies supplied by the World Food Program to areas battered by cyclone Sidr, said WFP spokesman Emamul Haque in Dhaka, the office coordinating international relief efforts.

International aid organizations promised initial packages of $25 million during a meeting with Bangladeshi agencies Monday, and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement that several million dollars were available from the U.N.’s emergency response funds, reported the AP.

Other governments have offered assistance, including Britain — $5 million, the European Union — $2.2 million, the United States — $2.1 million, France — $730,000, Germany — $730,000, and the Philippines said it would send a medical team.

About 3 million survivors, who were evacuated from low-lying areas or had their homes destroyed in the massive storm, were in need of government help.

One of the survivors, Dhalan Mridha, said he and his family had ignored the high cyclone alert issued by authorities until just before midnight Thursday, when “the winds came like hundreds of demons” in the fishing village of Galachipa, he said, according to the AP.

“Our small hut was swept away like a piece of paper, and we all ran for shelter,” said Mridha, a 45-year-old farm worker, weeping.

On the way to a shelter, Mridha was separated from his wife, mother and two children. The next morning, he found their bodies stuck in a battered bush.

One relief worker said the areas struck looked like “the valley of death.”

“The tragedy unfolds as we walk through one after another devastated village,” said Mohammad Selim in Bagerhat, one of the hardest-hit areas, Reuters reported.