On 15 November 2007, Cyclone Sidr hit Bangladesh claiming more than 3,300 lives and injuring more than 34,500. The severe cyclone triggered a tidal surge that devastated three coastal towns and forced the evacuation of almost a million people.
During the storm, around 1.5 million homes were ripped apart, nearly 750,000 acres of crops were destroyed, and over 1.5 million farm animals were killed. There was also huge damage to fishing boats and materials, and drinking water was contaminated.
More than 9 million people were affected across 30 districts in the south west of Bangladesh. The four worst affected districts were: Bagerhat, Barguna, Patuakhali and Pirojpur.
Following a warning from the Bangladesh government meteorological department on 14 November 2007, more than 40,000 Bangladesh Red Crescent volunteers started to alert and evacuate hundreds of thousands of people. All fishing boats were advised to return to land, schools and colleges were closed and people were discouraged from travelling.
Before Cyclone Sidr hit landfall, some 5,000 community volunteers trained through the Bangladesh Red Crescent’s cyclone preparedness programme worked through the night to alert and evacuate the vulnerable. Working alongside government authorities, they used megaphones and hand sirens to warn communities. In this way, some 200,000 people living in the coastal zone were evacuated to safer places such as cyclone shelters, high-rise buildings, public and private houses.
British Red Cross response
The British Red Cross launched the Bangladesh Cyclone Appeal on 19 November 2007, which raised more than £600,000. We then joined forces with other leading humanitarian agencies to appeal for donations through the Disasters Emergency Committee, which raised £5.7 million, of which the British Red Cross received almost £1 million.
The British Red Cross has been supporting activities to prepare for cyclones for many years, working with communities to raise their awareness and improve their levels of preparation. More lives would have been lost if communities had been less prepared, evident by the fact that a cyclone in 1991 of the same strength killed 140,000 people.
Find out about our long-term recovery work in Bangladesh