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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05DHAKA1409
2005-03-24 10:32:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Dhaka
Cable title:  

PRE-MONSOON STORMS HIT BANGLADESH HARD

Tags:   ECON  EAID  BG  BGD 
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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
						C O N F I D E N T I A L DHAKA 001409 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/24/2015
TAGS: ECON EAID BG BGD
SUBJECT: PRE-MONSOON STORMS HIT BANGLADESH HARD


Classified By: Econ Chief David Renz; reason 1.4 b

C O N F I D E N T I A L DHAKA 001409

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/24/2015
TAGS: ECON EAID BG BGD
SUBJECT: PRE-MONSOON STORMS HIT BANGLADESH HARD


Classified By: Econ Chief David Renz; reason 1.4 b


1. (U) SUMMARY: On March 20, a tornado and hailstorm razed
villages, crops, trees and electricity poles in Gaibandha and
Rangpur in north Bangladesh. On March 22 and 23 a heavy
windstorm hit several villages in Dhaka Division, again
destroying crops and homes. At last count, 48 people were
killed in the first storm and 16 were killed in the second.
According to the Ministry of Food and Disaster Management,
1,630 people were injured in the tornado and 7,700 houses
were destroyed. A reported 82,000 people in Gaibhanda alone
were adversely affected. END SUMMARY.


2. (U) The initial rescue and relief endeavors have been a
collection of government and non-government efforts. Downed
power lines have complicated matters. Just after the first
tornado, Deputy Minister for Food and Disaster Management,
Asadul Habib Dulu paid a visit to the affected areas and
authorized aid in varying amounts, to include money and
corrugated tin. Shards of corrugated tin, a common local
building material, were one cause of serious injuries in this
storm. Tarique Rahman, son of Prime Minister Begum Khaleda
Zia and Senior Joint Secretary General of BNP, currently
engaged in a "listening tour" throughout the country, visited
one of the villages hit in Gaibandha and distributed rice and
money to affected families.


3. (C) Sources told Senior Pol FSN that Minister of Food and
Disaster Management Chowdhury Kamal Ibne Yusef is frustrated
at the paucity of aid that he is able to marshal. Privately,
the Minister expressed the wish that international aid
agencies would come to Bangladesh's assistance without the
BDG having to ask. Publicly, however, officials on the
ground say international aid is not needed, according to
international NGOs operating in the area, although officials
have not prevented these NGOs from providing assistance.
Yusef allowed to Senior Pol FSN that in a localized disaster
like this tornado, the BDG should be able to mount an
adequate response. However, as the devastation was so
complete in the affected areas, he felt his network was
overwhelmed and that victims were suffering due to the lack
of shelter and services. According to the Minister, the few
NGOs that are present in the area now are "sound and fury,
signifying nothing."


4. (U) A USAID-sponsored project located in Gaibandha, was
among the groups providing spot relief to tornado victims
immediately after the storm. USAID has sent an evaluation
team to the site of the storm to collect information.
Injuries from the first tornado overwhelmed local hospitals
and available medical services are generally poor. Rail
service between two of the affected villages has been
rendered gratis for all tornado victims, to facilitate
movement.


5. (SBU) COMMENT: As we saw with last year's floods, the BDG
is particularly reluctant to seek international assistance in
dealing with the natural disasters that periodically plague
the country, fearing that such assistance will reinforce
negative international perceptions about the country and the
BDG's ability to manage these recurring challenges. The
one-two punch of recent water shortages and foul weather,
however, are stressing Bangladesh's short-term food
resources. Further shocks could yet force the BDG to seek
assistance. END COMMENT.
THOMAS