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KILLER CYCLONE FORCED YOUNG BANGLADESHIS TO BECOME ADULTS OVERNIGHT

Ansar Meah, 10, cradled his 2-year-old sister and clutched the hand of his 7-year-old brother - all that the killer cyclone in April had left of his family.

Suddenly the man of the household, the soft-spoken boy with an injured left eye, had one overriding concern: He'd been going to school and had never worked. How was he going to keep his family alive?In the devastation of southeast Bangladesh, where the cylone left 139,000 dead, hundreds of orphans like the Meahs are struggling to survive.

With the three small orphanages in the area full and no special government help, they and other orphans depend on the little help given by distant relatives, or whatever they can do on their own.

This village where the Meahs live, less than a mile from the Bay of Bengal, once had 250 occupants who grew rice in lush paddyfields.

But their placid life was shattered when a 20-foot tidal wave spawned by the cyclone rolled over Andharpara, killing 135 villagers.

Ansar Meah, his brother Kaisar and sister Yasmeen seemed bewildered by their plight. Their father had died before the cyclone and their mother, older brother and aunt were swept away in the storm.

A cousin, Mahabul Alam, 30, who lost his father and daughter, said he had been taking care of the children and would try to keep them until they could support themselves.

"The little girl was breast-feeding, but since her mother's death, there is no milk. Off and on she cries. We have been giving her rice and biscuits," he said.

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(Additional information)

Weather officials warned Friday that a fresh storm was brewing in the Bay of Bengal, the origin of last month's cyclone that killed at least 139,000 people. About 1.7 million survivors of the cyclone are fighting disease and hunger along Bangladesh's southern coast.