The cholera disaster in West Bengal is assuming nightmare proportions and it's getting worse by the hour.
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Background: The cholera disaster in West Bengal is assuming nightmare proportions and it's getting worse by the hour. Between eight and ten thousand people are estimated to have died already. The number of East Pakistani refugees has reached five million. Another seven-and-a-half million people living in Calcutta are in danger. West Bengal has appealed for ten million doses of anti-cholera vaccine - and that's more than the entire world supply. In Toronto today, Raymond Cournoyer Oxfam of Canada's field director for the region, said it may take forty million doses to beat the epidemic:
Twenty-thousand doses - the entire supply available in Eastern Canada - was leaving Toronto by air tonight for Zurich, on the first leg of its journey to the stricken area. It's expected to arrive on Wednesday, and 100-thousand more doses have been ordered. Launching a public appeal for 300-thousand dollars, Mr. Cournoyer called the outbreak the worst disaster in history, and said it wouldn't have happened if the world had responded more quickly to West Bengal's cries help. Twenty-six tons of anti-cholera vaccine were flown to India from London yesterday, after the employees of a drug firm had worked all night to produce it. The shipment was loaded aboard an air-freighter, specially chartered for the purpose by a charitable organisation in Kent. But a lot more vaccine is urgently needed.