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18 Nov 2007 09:00
The stench of death from bloated corpses wafts through the air at Swarankhola, a small fishing village in souther Bangladesh that bore the brunt of a deadly cyclone last week.
Three days after the Cyclone Sidr swept through the Bay of Bengal with winds of 250km/h and causing a storm surge of 5m, a walk through the village is like a walk through a valley of death.
Men, women and children wailed over bodies retrieved from rubble of their devastated homes or found in the paddy fields or rivers.
Even relief workers and journalists inured to such scenes wiped tears from their eyes.
“Please also give us some clothes to wrap the bodies,” begged one villager as he pulled a dead man from a river.
“We are bringing them [the dead] ashore almost throughout the day and need to wrap them for burial,” said the man, after an airforce helicopter landed with food, drinking water and medicine.
The helicopter crew who have been flying relief sorties for two days said they saw similar scenes everywhere they went.
“We are in endless pain by losing our loved ones. But as we live we need provisions [food and medicines],” said Mohammad Yusuf, another villager.
“More and more corpses are shoring up in the Baleswar river, spreading bad smells as they rot in the water,” he told Reuters on Sunday.
Besides human bodies, hundreds of animal carcases floated down the Baleswar and other rivers.
“Diarrhoea and other water borne diseases have broken out in many villages and is spreading,” said Monir Hossain, a local aid worker.
“I hate to see the same tragic thing happening in every 10 or 15 years,” said a 60-year-old survivor, refering to the previous cyclone in 1991 that killed about 143 000 people.
“I wish I do not see such a devastation again in my life.” - Reuters
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