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Relief Agencies Strive to Deliver Supplies to Bangladeshi Cyclone Victims


Aid workers are struggling Monday to reach the most devastated areas of southern Bangladesh to provide relief to cyclone survivors.

Authorities say Cyclone Sidr destroyed roads and cut off electricity and telecommunications, impeding the efforts of local and international agencies.

The Bangladeshi government on Sunday said 2,300 people were killed by the powerful cyclone that battered the south of the country last week. But aid organizations say the toll could be much higher.

The Bangladesh Red Crescent Society said Sunday the death toll could reach 10,000, after more victims are discovered in hard-to-reach areas.

Bangladesh has deployed military ships and helicopters to help the relief efforts.

U.S. military ships also are heading to Bangladesh to assist in relief operations. The U.S. government says it has provided more than $2 million in initial aid and is also airlifting plastic sheeting, hygiene kits and other supplies for survivors.

President Bush and his wife, Laura, offered condolences to the victims of the storm.

At the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI called for "every possible effort" to help the victims of the Bangladesh cyclone and he offered prayers for the dead.

The United Nations' humanitarian chief said Friday the U.N. has made several million dollars in emergency aid available to Bangladesh. And the World Food Program said it is sending rations for up to 400,000 people affected by the storm.

Storms batter Bangladesh every year. A cyclone that hit the country in 1970 killed about half a million people. Another in 1991 killed more than 130,000.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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