of people remained homeless and over 20 thousand dead in the
century's worst cyclone that ripped through coastal Orissa.
Super-cyclone with winds 260-300 km/hour (hurricane category
5) hit the 90 mile coast of Orissa with a storm surge that
created the Bay-of-Bengal water level 30 feet higher than
normal. The water rushed violently to submerge the coastal
areas including the port city of Paradip and areas within
30 km from the shore. The escaping water was 15 feet deep.
the day of October 29th and in the complete darkness of the
fateful night, the water (the sea water, the rain water and
the flood water) rushing with its violent speed and monstrous
wind with its devastating force played their most brutal mischief
with thousands of helpless people.
was no kindness, no mercy, no food or drink, nobody to hear
your cries and hunger. For many it was the ghost-town experience
with the darkened sky roaring above pouring high speed rain
water, the violent winds all around and inches and inches
of muddy water below. Some closed their eyes forever and some
who couldn't close their eyes, now can't see their future.
least 15 lakh (1.5 million) marooned and 25 lakh (2.5 million)
houses have been estimated to be either totally destroyed
or damaged in the coastal districts of Orissa. Gamang said
ten districts suffered extensive damage with Kendrapara and
Jagatsingpur bearing the brunt of the cyclone. A huge sheet
of water covered almost entire Kendrapara and Jagatsingpur
which were hit by ten-metre high tidal waves whipped by the
gale packed with windspeed of 300 km per hour.
relief efforts get underway in India's cyclone-ravaged Orissa
state, a grisly picture is emerging of the storm's death and
destruction. While the official death toll has been put at
600, relief and government officials have estimated a much
higher casualty figure. A senior army official, speaking on
the condition of anonymity, told the Associated Press that
the death toll could be between 10,000 and 20,000 -- a figure
that would mark it as the deadliest cyclone ever to hit the
storm-prone country since a 1971 cyclone killed 10,000. Relief
officials have said the death toll could reach 5,000.
and journalists touring the devastated state have reported
seeing hundreds of bodies burned together in mass cremations
throughout the damaged area. One local politician told reporters
that he saw hundreds of carcasses floating in the street,
and another official in Paradip told the BBC that some 500
people had died there alone. Thousands have lost their homes,
livestock and rice fields to the relentless floods. And as
officials struggle to bring food and fresh water to the survivors,
it is feared that the death toll will continue to escalate.
have been stranded or left homeless in Orissa state. Photo
courtesy of the BBC Vast areas of the disaster zone remain
inaccessible after one of the most powerful super cyclones
ever to strike India roared ashore from the Bay of Bengal
Friday, slamming the coast with 160 mph winds and 30-foot
tidal waves and washing away the mud homes of millions.
After the severe weather abated Monday afternoon, relief helicopters
finally lifted off to bring help to the millions left homeless
and stranded by the floods. Helicopters dropped packets of
protein-rich food and fresh water but were only able to reach
thousands of the estimated 2 million people stranded along
the 90-mile stretch of the northeastern coast.
difficulties, continued flooding and looting continue to hamper
relief efforts, and officials fear that some people may die
before help can arrive. Many already have gone four days without
fresh water or food. Some desperate and hungry storm victims
are trying to leave town as the main road inland is cleared
of fallen trees by the military. Others stand along the highways
waiting for packets of rice and water to be dropped from air
food or water, officials fear that stranded cyclone victims
will die of disease and hunger, adding to an already ghastly
death toll. Some already are drinking contaminated water in
the flooded streets. Red Cross officials said they are trying
hard to get to cyclone shelters where thousands have been
without food, fresh water or medicine.
will be at least a week before relief will reach all parts
of the state. By then many people would have died of hunger
and diseases," Anadi Sadhu, a member of parliament from
the state, told The Indian Express newspaper. There is also
fear of water borne epidemics of cholera and gastro-enteritis.
As the desperation grows, officials are preparing to deal
with increased vandalism and lawlessness. Food riots erupted
in Bhubaneswar, the state capital of Orissa, which has had
electricity, drinking water or food since the storm struck
last Friday. Residents looted warehouses and vehicles carrying
emergency supplies, the Press Trust of India reported. In
the coastal town of Baleshwar, where women have reported being
molested and looting is widespread, civil authorities asked
the army to help restore order.
helicopter delivers food and water to cyclone victims. Photo
courtesy of the BBC
Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes was mobbed by crowds
of desperate residents as his helicopter landed in the devastated
port city of Paradip. "The experience in Paradip defies
any kind of description. There is utter chaos," Fernandes
said. "There is complete breakdown of law and order.
Police are inadequate." He said the houses of Paradip
Port Trust officials had been ransacked and about 50,000 food
aid packets had been looted.
whole state of Orissa is still without electricity, with many
roads blocked with debris, fallen trees and downed power lines.
Outside the coastal town of Baleshwar, hundreds of people
huddled under plastic sheets along the roadside, waiting for
packets of rice and water to be delivered by the army.
the densely populated area surrounding Baleshwar, at least
14 villages were totally submerged and 15,000 people were
taking shelter in one public college building, said Asim Kumar
Vaishnav, the senior administrator in the Baleshwar district.
As many as 15 million people live in the stricken area and
millions of them may be displaced.
is the worst flooding in 100 years. I would say it is the
worst in India's history," Vaishnav said.
Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee declared a national disaster
and announced federal assistance of one billion rupees ($23
million). Just two weeks ago another cyclone killed 147 people
as it roared in from the bay and hammered the Orissa coast.
This time, the coastline states of Orissa and West Bengal
are expecting the destruction to be far worse, and critics
are accusing the government of responding too slowly to the
disaster and conducting the evacuations too late.
have tried to control looting following the storm. Photo courtesy
of the BBC In the wake of the criticism, Vajpayee has stressed
that the cyclone must be treated as a "national calamity."
India's missile test site at Chandipore has been transformed
into an army relief center with missile scientists coordinating
aid operations. An infantry division of 10,000 soldiers is
on rescue duty and soldiers in motor boats and flat-bottom
rafts plied the floodwaters to rescue stranded civilians marooned
on patches of high ground or the roofs of their homes. Army
cooks have also been involved in the relief effort by preparing
fried leavened bread and spicy potatoes for hungry villagers.
The army moved in medical teams and engineers who will set
up field clinics on Wednesday.
"I believe that the whole country needs to come to the
rescue of the people of Orissa," Fernandes said. "If
the country immediately does not respond, we are going to
have the dimensions of a tragedy ... that cannot be imagined."
Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan said that a disaster
team was mobilizing to assess damage and coordinate international
relief efforts, and the International Federation of Red Cross
and Red Crescent Societies has already appealed for $2.65
million in immediate aid for the homeless.