Action by Churches Together (ACT) and local NGO partners have appealed for assistance after Cyclone Aila hit Bangladesh and eastern India Monday evening.
The death toll in Bangladesh rose to at least 89 following the recovery of more bodies on Tuesday. At least 49 people died in West Bengal state.
In Bangladesh, the worst affected area was Satkhira district, near the port of Mongla, where a local official said 17 bodies were found in one village. Around 500,000 people have been moved by the local authorities to temporary shelters to escape huge tidal waves churned by winds up to 60 mph.
ACT member RDRS reported that cattle, fish stocks and crops have been severely impacted and road communication cut off in the affected areas. A large number of people have taken shelter at different cyclone centers and schools. ACT members are monitoring the situation.
In West Bengal, India, the heavy rainfall, high tides and tidal surges have breached river and flood embankments inundating large parts of the six Blocks of South 24 Parganas district. Thousands are without sufficient food and shelter.
The displaced population have taken shelter in school buildings and other safer locations. Many others are in villages still cut off from the mainland. While the weather has calmed, the full extent of the impact is still being investigated, and ACT members in India are continuing to closely monitor the cyclone in case it should intensify again.
The Indian Army began rescue and relief operations in cyclone-hit districts of West Bengal on Tuesday and IAF helicopters air dropped food packets in the worst affected South and North 24 Parganas.
Cyclonic storms are a common phenomena in Bangladesh, mainly during April-May and October-November.
Aila is the worst cyclonic storm after Sidr, which claimed more than 5,000 lives in 2007. In 1991, a severe cyclone killed over 150,000 in Bangladesh and in 1969, nearly one million people were killed by another cyclone.
ACT members Church Auxiliary for Social Action (CASA) and Lutheran World Service India (LWSI) immediately received appeals from local NGO partners operating in the affected regions for assistance.
LWSI have sent a rapid assessment team into the affected areas today (May 26th). 300 HDPE Plastic sheets from the LWSI stockpile for temporary shelter have been dispatched along with the rapid assessment team to the affected areas. CASA have gathered rapid assessment information from three local partners present in the area, Daniel Asharam Society and Hasus and Haripur Women Health Society.
ACT is a global alliance of churches and related agencies working to save lives and support communities in emergencies worldwide. The ACT Coordinating Office is based with the World Council of Churches (WCC) and The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in Switzerland.