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Cyclone Mahasen devastates coastal towns in Bangladesh

A tropical storm has lashed coastal areas of Bangladesh, killing 12 people, destroying thousands of huts and forcing up to a million people to flee. The WaterAid team in Bangladesh have sent us this update.

Towns in Patuakhali district in Bangladesh have been seriously affected by tropical cyclone Mahasen, which struck southern Bangladesh and Burma on Thursday 16 May, with peak winds of nearly 50 miles per hour lashing coastal villages.

In Patuakhali, many families have been left homeless, with most evacuated to cyclone shelters but some still living out in the open. Nearly 50,000 cattle have been lost across the district, while 20,000 latrines have been damaged as well as some roads, dams and tube wells. As a result, many drinking water sources have been contaminated posing a health risk.

Communication systems have been disrupted and it may be two weeks before electricity will be restored.

The local government is supporting the affected people by arranging for the provision of dry food and drinking water and organisations have started distributing safe drinking water and oral rehydration saline.

In Bangladesh, we help construct water and sanitation services that can withstand disasters such as floods and cyclones, using simple design features such as raised platforms to protect the facilities from damage.

Elsewhere in the country, the impact was much less than feared as the storm weakened as it reached land and hundreds of thousands of people had been evacuated as a precaution.

Khairul Islam, WaterAid’s Country Representative for Bangladesh, said:

The Government and NGOs took unprecedented and commendable preparation and so the number of casualties was minimal.

Officials put the death toll on Thursday at 12. WaterAid staff and partner staff have all been confirmed as safe and the other communities where we work were largely unaffected.