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Cyclone toll touches 2300

Barguna, Bangladesh, Nov. 18 (AP): Hungry survivors today scrambled for food as rescue workers cleared fallen trees and twisted roofs from roads to reach remote villages after a cyclone battered Bangladesh, leaving at least 2,300 dead and thousands homeless.

Relief officials warned the death toll could jump sharply as rescuers reach more isolated areas.

Teams from international aid organisations worked with army troops in a massive rescue effort that attracted help from around the world. But relief items — tents, rice, water — were slow to reach many survivors.

The death toll from tropical cyclone Sidr, the worst storm to hit the country in a decade, rose to at least 2,300 as officials made contact with coastal regions that had been cut off by the storm, said Selina Shahid of the ministry of food and disaster management.

The Bangladesh Red Crescent Society, the Islamic equivalent of the Red Cross, warned the toll could hit 10,000 once rescuers reach outlying islands.

Mohammad Abdur Rob, chairman of the society, said the estimate came from the assessments of thousands of volunteers taking part in the rescue operations across the battered region.

On the devastated coast, rescue workers struggled to reach many survivors.

“I’ve been here waiting for hours for something to eat,” said Asad Ali, a 45-year-old farmer in Barguna, one of the hardest-hit districts. “What I've got so far are a few cookies. Not enough.”

He said he received the cookies from a helicopter dropping packages of food. The aircraft have attracted mobs of people swarming below every time one is spotted.

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