Bodies sought in Bangladesh bridge wreck

Rescuers struggled to shift massive concrete slabs Sunday in their search for those feared trapped when a bridge partially collapsed under the weight of thousands of cyclone survivors stampeding for food in southern Bangladesh.

Bodies sought in Bangladesh bridge wreck
Dozens of people were injured and one died when a 30-foot section of the 500-foot bridge fell into a river in Kalapara subdistrict Saturday, police official Mohammad Yunus said. Kalapara is in Patuakhali district, one of the areas hardest hit by Tropical Cyclone Sidr earlier this month.

At least two people remained missing, Yunus said, adding that rescuers were not expecting to find any survivors under the slabs in the 20-foot-deep river.

The collapse was the latest blow to the already impoverished region of southern Bangladesh where survivors of the Nov. 15 cyclone, which killed more than 3,100 people and destroyed more than 450,000 homes, were struggling to restart their lives.

Aid workers' attempts to deliver critical supplies and medical services were already hampered after roads and communications routes were blocked or destroyed by debris from the storm.

The U.S. Navy was assisting in the relief efforts.

The USS Kearsarge, carrying about 20 helicopters and relief supplies, was docked off the country's coast as naval officers made arrangements to deliver aid packages to the battered region. The USS Essex was due to arrive in coming days, U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Amy Vrampas said.

Officers were dispensing medical assistance from a clinic aboard the Kearsarge, said Bangladesh army Lt. Col. Main Ullah Chowdhury.

The cyclone destroyed many wells, and clean water supplies were necessary to prevent the spread of cholera and severe diarrhea. On Friday, the U.S. Navy delivered 3,000 gallons of drinking water to hard-hit Barisal district.

"We've been told that water was the most crucial," Vrampas said.

Bangladesh has received pledges of international aid of more than $500 million, including $250 million from the World Bank.

The official death toll from the cyclone stood at 3,199, said Maj. A. B. M. Nowroz Ehsan, a spokesman for the army, which is coordinating the relief and rescue work.

The Disaster Management Ministry said 1,724 people were missing and 28,188 people had been injured. It said the cyclone destroyed 458,804 houses and partially damaged another 665,529.

Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 25 Kasım 2007, 14:45
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