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 Tuesday 18 December 2007
 
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BANGLADESH: Mohammad Hasan, Bangladesh: “Now I am alone”


Photo: David Swanson/IRIN
Mohammad Hasan lost his entire family in Cyclone Sidr
KANCHONBARIA, 3 December 2007 (IRIN) - When Cyclone Sidr slammed into the southwest coast of Bangladesh on 15 November, Mohammad Hasan and his father, mother, two sisters and brother were on the coastal island of Kalagachia where they worked in the seasonal trade of cleaning and drying fish - an annual ritual for thousands of impoverished Bangladeshis.

Two days later 12-year-old Mohammad returned to his home village of Kanchonbaria in Patuakhali District alone - another orphan in the country’s worst natural disaster in over a decade.

“I will never forget the cyclone. It roared like a beast.

“We heard the cyclone warning three hours before it hit, but there were 300 people on the island at the time and not enough boats to take us ashore. Instead, as the wind began to pick up, my father herded us into a nearby wooden shelter for protection.

“As we sat in the darkness, my father wrapped his arms around us as tightly as he could. He told us to remain calm and we covered our ears. But as the wind intensified, the noise became unbearable and my younger brother and two sisters began to scream uncontrollably.

“Then the sea surged into the room and the building broke up. As my mouth filled with water, my father’s grip weakened and I could feel him letting go. As he did, my mother cried out our names before she disappeared under the water, as did my father soon afterwards.

''As my mouth filled with water, my father’s grip weakened and I could feel him letting go. As he did, my mother cried out our names before she disappeared under the water, as did my father soon afterwards.''
“I had no idea what was happening. It happened within seconds and I felt myself going under. I swam hard. Harder than ever as I was sure I was going to die. When I resurfaced I called out for my parents, then my brother, and then my two sisters - but there was nothing.

“In the darkness, I found a piece of wood and floated on it for about two and half hours before being pulled into a boat by other survivors. They tried to console me, but I couldn’t stop crying. I wanted to be strong, but couldn’t stop.

“The next morning I pleaded with them to help me find my family. I didn’t know what else to do. Later I learned that my brother’s mangled body had been found 8km away, while my father’s and mother’s had been found 5km away in an entirely different direction. They still haven’t found my two younger sisters, but I’m told they too are gone.

“Now I am alone. I don’t know what to do or where to go. My family was everything for me and now I have nothing.”

ds/cb


Theme(s): (IRIN) Children, (IRIN) Natural Disasters

[ENDS]

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
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Copyright © IRIN 2007
This material comes to you via IRIN, the humanitarian news and analysis service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations or its Member States. Republication is subject to terms and conditions as set out in the IRIN copyright page.