When Cyclone Aila made landfall on Monday, it forced 500,000 people to flee their homes in Bangladesh and stranded an estimated 400,000 more in the delta region near Kolkata, India.
Oxfam's Sandhya Suri is a researcher in Bangladesh who found herself in Gabura, a district in the path of the storm.
Much of Gabura, she reports, is entirely under water. "At the main embankment, water is gushing at an immense speed, increasing its intensity with the tide. Hundreds of people are hungry and thirsty. Local shopkeepers are not opening up for fear of looting. Lenin, the chairman of Gabura Union, told us that children had not even seen a biscuit since yesterday."
Many people are trying to leave the area, while others are staying put, guarding their belongings.
"A man was still searching for his six-month-old child's body, washed from his lap during the cyclone," says Suri. "They were still searching for many dead bodies."
Oxfam is immediately launching an assessment to determine the needs in the flood-stricken region and to learn how we can best deploy our resources and engage our local partners to protect the lives and health of the survivors. When the worst of the emergency is past, we will look for ways to help coastal residents build a safer future.
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