Monday 1 June 2009

Bangladesh cyclone + and then there were none

There are fears that disease may strike Bangladesh following last Monday’s cyclone, which killed at least 200 people in the country and in the Indian state of West Bengal. Nearly half a million are homeless and there is an acute shortage of clean water.

Bangladesh suffered the deadliest storm in history in 1970 when 115 mile an hour winds funnelled a terrifying 40 foot wave onto what was then East Pakistan. The people never had a chance in their flimsy houses on flat, low lying land, and up to a million died. Whole villages disappeared, as if, said an eye witness, they had been sucked up by a giant vacuum cleaner. For more details see A Disastrous History of the World.

The last survivor of the Titanic, Millvina Dean, died yesterday, aged 97, in a Hampshire nursing home on the 98th anniversary of the ship’s launch. Miss Dean, the youngest passenger aboard at nine and a half weeks, was being taken by her family to start a new life in America.

She owed her life to her father’s quick thinking. The scrape with the iceberg had not seemed too serious to many on board. One survivor said it felt similar to what happens when a vessel touches the dock wall before berthing, but Mr Dean realised the danger and got them out of their third class accommodation onto the deck. Miss Dean’s mother and her two year old brother were also rescued, but her father perished. Only one in four of the third class passengers survived. The family came back to England and Miss Dean spent most of her life in Southampton. (See also my blog of April 15)

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