17 May 2013
Tropical Cyclone Mahasen has now have been downgraded to a tropical storm, and is expected to further reduce speed as it heads inland. As it moved across the Indian Ocean threatening Bangladesh and Myanmar earlier this week, the Red Cross helped the countries prepare.
Around one million people were evacuated from 13 coastal districts in the 24 hours prior to the arrival of the storm. Particularly vulnerable were the 140,000 people who are living in makeshift camps in Rakine state after fleeing violence between local communities. Many of these camps are located in low-lying coastal areas susceptible to tidal surge.
While 11 deaths have so far been reported from Cyclone Mahasen, causalities have been minimal.
Preparing for the worst
Whether a disaster is large or small, preparation helps save lives. As the storm approached, Bangladesh Red Crescent volunteers helped keep communities updated and shared disaster preparedness advice. They were prepared to evacuate people to shelters and distribute relief if needed.
Over 300 Myanmar Red Cross community volunteers worked with the local authorities to help thousands of people evacuate from vulnerable coastal areas in Rakhine State. The Myanmar Red Cross used loud speakers and radio to broadcast emergency warnings and vital information. It also stockpiled essential supplies for over 3,000 families – including tarpaulins, kitchen sets and mosquito nets – in key locations.
Red Crescent teams in the Chittagong, Noakhali and Barisal regions of Bangladesh are now on hand to supply food. Five mobile Bangladesh Red Crescent medical teams and 100 health volunteers are also responding. In Myanmar, Red Cross staff and volunteers continue to help people affected by the storm.
British Red Cross support
The British Red Cross has provided vehicles to help the Bangladesh Red Crescent respond to the storm, and is ready to give further support if needed.
Bangladesh is one of the world's most disaster-prone countries, and is particularly susceptible to cyclones and floods. The British Red Cross supports a long-term Bangladesh Red Crescent programme which is helping 26 communities prepare for and respond to multiple hazards. The British Red Cross is also supporting the Myanmar Red Cross through a five-year programme to improving health care for mothers and children under five.
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