Cyclone Sidr Deaths Now Exceed Sept 11 Attacks

“We really got to make sure that we educate – not just the [local] people, but also ourselves,” explained Nick Downie. Downie, a British national, had come as Operations Co-ordinator for an alliance of Save the Children charities from around the world to come and help those affected by Cyclone Sidr. I had accompanied Downie for a day, earlier last week, to a remote region of the disaster area that could only be reached by either boat or helicopter.The location for Downie’s plea for education could not have been more imposing. We had just walked for 30 minutes along a path full of make-shift refugee housing and buried bodies. The largest grave we had found had over 13 newly buried bodies – over two-thirds of which were children. In the middle of the interview, I interrupted him. There was a powerful smell that made it almost impossible for me to breath. “Is that smell the dead bodies? Or the dirty water?” I asked…

With the official death toll currently being reported at 3,268 (source: Bloomberg.com), the loss of life caused by Cyclone Sidr already exceeds that of the September 11th attacks. With new bodies being found everyday – a great many of them children – the official death toll is most certainly expected to exceed the total number of coalition causalities caused by the Iraq War. However, despite the ever increasing scale of this tragedy, the plight of Bangladeshis affected by Cyclone Sidr seem to have faded from international headlines.

Although I am reporting from Dhaka, I often rely on British and American news sources for the latest facts and figures. However, finding the latest news on Cyclone Sidr from CNN and BBC is almost impossible. This is strange given that the story is anything but over. During my time in the field, I was fortunate enough to have not stumbled across any dead human bodies. A great many of my colleagues, however, were not so fortunate. Even as late as yesterday night, I was hearing reports of new bodies being found and in need of burial.

Although generous people from around the world are uniting to help donate to disaster relief, aid is still slow in coming. On my trip to the Bagerhat Disaster Area, I had brought 70 blankets which I had paid for with my own money to give away. 30 of which, I brought along with my trip with Nick Downie to this remote region of the disaster area. It turns out, that these 30 blankets were the first aid (of its kind) in this particular region. Whatever sense of accomplishment I felt was overridden by grief. 30 blankets never seemed so little an amount in my life.

“We’re very comfortable back in our homes – whether we’re in London or Toronto,” explained Downie – referring to our respective hometowns. “We just got to do whatever we can,” he added.

One thing is certain – we certainly can do more than just provide a 30 second spot for this news story.

This article has been also posted on NowPublic.com, you can read the same story here.

[Note: My YouTube channel/videos have been nominated in spotlight contest. Votes determine the winner – and I am currently in second place. You can vote for the next three days at PhillyD.tv – there is a poll on the left side of the page.]

9 Responses to “Cyclone Sidr Deaths Now Exceed Sept 11 Attacks”


  1. 1 BritniMarie

    I saw your videos via youtube, they are pretty much amazing. I was hoping to make a donation; but you don’t have a place for that. πŸ™ Let me know if you get one!

  2. 2 BritniMarie

    I saw your videos via youtube, they are pretty much amazing. I was hoping to make a donation; but you don’t have a place for that. πŸ™ Let me know if you get one!

  3. 3 Shawn

    Hey πŸ™‚ The decision to not accept donations is intentional. I think there are already enough charities in the world. The problem is that there are not enough charitable people πŸ™‚

    Here are some charities I can personally vouch for.

    1) If you want to make a donation to an individual who is doing work like me, I suggest Mikey Leung. I know him personally – he’s a good guy and the money he gets he spends where it belongs.

    If you want to make a donation, you can go here:
    http://www.mikeyleung.ca/2007/11/25/cyclone-sidr-devastates-bangladesh/

    2) If you want to make a donation to the organization you saw on my YouTube video, they will be more than happy for any money you can spare. They do things on a bigger scale – but every dollar counts.

    If you want to make a donation to these guys instead, you can go here:

    http://www.savethechildren.org/newsroom/2007/bangladesh-cyclone.html
    (The link to donate is at the bottom of that page).

    Take care and thanks for your kind words πŸ™‚

  4. 4 Shawn

    Hey πŸ™‚ The decision to not accept donations is intentional. I think there are already enough charities in the world. The problem is that there are not enough charitable people πŸ™‚

    Here are some charities I can personally vouch for.

    1) If you want to make a donation to an individual who is doing work like me, I suggest Mikey Leung. I know him personally – he’s a good guy and the money he gets he spends where it belongs.

    If you want to make a donation, you can go here:
    http://www.mikeyleung.ca/2007/11/25/cyclone-sidr-devastates-bangladesh/

    2) If you want to make a donation to the organization you saw on my YouTube video, they will be more than happy for any money you can spare. They do things on a bigger scale – but every dollar counts.

    If you want to make a donation to these guys instead, you can go here:

    http://www.savethechildren.org/newsroom/2007/bangladesh-cyclone.html
    (The link to donate is at the bottom of that page).

    Take care and thanks for your kind words πŸ™‚

  5. 5 tahsin

    hey shawn..

    very jos stuff! How long are you in BD for? I’ll be in dhaka jan 5-25 and want to help out. Ping me when you get a chance.
    Ta

  6. 6 tahsin

    hey shawn..

    very jos stuff! How long are you in BD for? I’ll be in dhaka jan 5-25 and want to help out. Ping me when you get a chance.
    Ta

  7. 7 michael

    this is a horrible incedent but what about the Sudan? 450,000 r dead and 3.2 million don’t have a home!!!

  8. 8 Shawn

    Great point Michael. I think the situation in Darfur is very serious and we definitely aren’t doing enough there.

    The problem with Darfur is that no matter how much we care, the Sudanese government is preventing the international community from getting involved more.

    When it comes to Cyclone Sidr, the government of Bangladesh has been very open to foreign help. The US even sent troops to help here as part of Operation Sea Angel II to help save lives.

    The Sudanese government certainly doesn’t want the US in Darfur – so any US involvement in Darfur would mean UN sanctioned intervention. Which is a whole other set of issues πŸ™

  9. 9 Shawn

    Great point Michael. I think the situation in Darfur is very serious and we definitely aren’t doing enough there.

    The problem with Darfur is that no matter how much we care, the Sudanese government is preventing the international community from getting involved more.

    When it comes to Cyclone Sidr, the government of Bangladesh has been very open to foreign help. The US even sent troops to help here as part of Operation Sea Angel II to help save lives.

    The Sudanese government certainly doesn’t want the US in Darfur – so any US involvement in Darfur would mean UN sanctioned intervention. Which is a whole other set of issues πŸ™

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