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Hundreds still in the open: Death toll in tornado climbs to 22; rescue operation wrapped up

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Sunday, March 24, 2013

By Sheikh Md Shahidul Islam, B'baria



Friday’s tornado denuded the trees beside Comilla-Brahmanbaria highway. The road was opened early yesterday after tree trunks, wrecked vehicles and debris were removed. Photo: Sk Enamul Haq



Many from the tornado-ravaged villages of Brahmanbaria moved into schools yesterday as their homes had been flattened by the twister that left an eight-km-long trail of destruction on Friday. Besides asking people to move into six school buildings, local authorities yesterday started setting up tents in the 20 affected villages of Brahmanbariasadar, Bijoynagar and Akhauraupazilas.

The body of Yasmin Begum, 35, was recovered 250 yards off her home in Chinair early yesterday while nine-month-old Sabiha of Chinair died at Dhaka Medical College Hospital yesterday evening raising the death toll to 22. Shell-shocked locals were yesterday seen sitting beside the debris the 15-minute tornado left behind on Friday evening around 5:30. Funeral processions were seen snaking through the devastation.

In the morning, some of the victims were trying to pitch up improvised tents made with plastic sheets in the worst-affected villages of Patirhata, Urshiura, Chandi, Chinair, Kodda, Radhika, Bashudev, Badshala in Brahmanbariasadar; Azampur in Akhaura and Merashine in Bijoynagarupazila. Road and rail communication were restored early yesterday after uprooted trees, wrecked vehicles and debris were removed from rail lines and the Comilla-Brahmanbaria highway. Rescue operations conducted by the army, Border Guard Bangladesh, the Fire Brigade, Rapid Action Battalion and police were wrapped up around noon.



Septuagenarian Kulsum Begum in front of her destroyed home in Chinair of BrahmanbariaSadarupazila. Photo: Sk Enamul Haq



Yesterday, many locals of the surrounding areas came to their neighbours’ aid with food. “While some brought puffed rice, perched rice or buns, others brought home-cooked meals,” said M Nazmul, 70, a freedom fighter who was seen distributing food among the affected people in Urshiura, Chinair and Patiasar villages.

About 20 hours after the disaster, the tornado-hit people got something to eat from the government. The local administration started distributing rice and cooked food in the afternoon.
It also distributed 15 kilograms of rice, two bundles of corrugated iron sheets and Tk 6,000 to each of the affected families. However, Anwar Hossain, 52, whose niece Lila Begum and sisters-in-law Rokeya Begum and Amena Begum had been killed, said he received half a sack of rice from the local administration and that was it.

Deputy Commissioner Noor Mohammad Majumder of Brahmanbaria told The Daily Star, “While we distributed our relief, Dutch Bangla Bank Ltd gave Tk 3,000 and two bundles of corrugated iron sheets to each of the affected families.” Each family with a deceased was given Tk 20,000, he added.

Mentioning that the government relief was not enough, locals urged the authorities concerned to think about their future as well. “How can I survive since I have lost my only cow? They are giving us food for today. What about tomorrow or the day after?” said Milon Mia, 30, a farmer of Chinair. “We want to stand on our own feet again. Please arrange employment for us,” appealed Sentu, 36, a farmer of Chandi village.

According to local lawmaker RabiulMoktadirChowdhury, at least 1,000 families were affected by the twister, which also uprooted around 3,500 trees, ruined crops and destroyed houses.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is expected to visit the affected villages in a day or two. Meanwhile, a man died after being electrocuted by an overhead cable in the district. Sources said he was trying to get a better view of the devastation from the roof of a building when he was electrocuted.




Source: thedailystar






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