Natural disasters, UN praises prevention work of the government and NGOs in Bangladesh
by Sumon Corraya
The last tropical storm in the country "only" caused 18 dead. Fundamental prevention work by authorities. Meanwhile, the Oklahoma tornado toll settles at 24 dead, including nine children.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) - As the U.S. come to terms with the damage caused by the powerful tornado on May 20, which hit the Oklahoma City area and debate rages over alerts on risk and prevention, in Bangladesh the UN has commended local authorities in their efforts to increase the level of security and preparedness for such natural disasters, which are very frequent here. The last one was the tropical storm Mahasen, that on May 16 last, hit over 13 coastal districts, where more than a million people live. The official toll was 18 dead, while 400 thousand people suffered injuries and there was damage of various kinds, particularly in agriculture.

The United Nations Office for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has, however, praised the preparation of the government and humanitarian organizations that have helped to save countless lives. The local UN coordinator, Pascal Villeneuve, said that "although there has been loss of life, the government has demonstrated its commitment to the prevention of damage by natural disasters and has taken the necessary measures to avoid a catastrophe."

The risk of disasters in Bangladesh is gradually decreasing. In 1971, cyclone Bhola killed more than 400 thousand people. In 2009, when Cyclone Aila struck the country, many volunteers helped to rescue the people and the death toll was below 200.

NGOs contribution in reducing risks is also important. As Geroge Gomes, head of the Catholic NGO Bangladesh Nazarene Mission, explained to AsiaNews the last tropical storm had even fewer victims because evacuation drills conducted among inhabitants of coastal areas were fundamental and the fact that these were transferred on time to the appropriate security centers.

Meanwhile, in Moore, Oklahoma, authorities have announced the end of rescue operations. The town was razed to the ground and the death toll is 24 dead, including nine children, and 240 injured. The economic damage amounts to several billion dollars.