Bangladesh says cyclone death toll hits 2,000

DHAKA, Nov 18, 2007 (AFP) – Bangladesh said Sunday the death toll from a massive cyclone hit 2,000, with that grim tally certain to rise as the impoverished country struggled to get aid to millions of people left homeless. The death toll has been jumping by hundreds at a time as rescue workers fight their way to remote areas where entire villages were flattened by the fury of Cyclone Sidr, which tore through south Bangladesh on Thursday night.

“I have never seen such a catastrophe in my 20 years as a government administrator,” said Harisprasad Pal, a local official in the hard-hit southern district of Jhalokati.

“Village after village has been shattered,” he said. “Millions of people are living out in the open and relief is reaching less than one percent of the people.”

The army and aid workers were still struggling to reopen roads to areas where most of the homes, fragile structures made of bamboo or tin that were blown away by the storm, have been wiped out.

In many places, villagers said, the dead were quickly being buried in mass graves.

“We have confirmed 2,000 deaths and it is constantly increasing as we get more reports from affected districts,” Masood Siddiki, director general of the govern