Case Study Of Super Cyclone In Orissa 2013 Movies

On October 29, 1999, a super cyclone with a wind speed of 300 mph had struck Odisha, making it probably the greatest cyclonic disaster ever recorded in the last century.


It was first detected when it was at its low pressure stage over the gulf of Siam by the IMD cyclone surveillance system on the morning of October 24, five days before it made landfall.

Winds of up to 260 kph raged for over 36 hours.

Coastal districts of Balasore, Bhadrak, Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur, Puri and Ganjam were forced to evacuate their homes.

Landfall point
Between Ersama and Balikuda in Jagatsinghpur district (southwest of Paradip)

Time of landfall
10.30 am, October 29, 1999

High wind speed
The wind speed of the super cyclone was so high that the anemometer, a device used for measuring wind speed, at the IMD office and at Paradip had failed to record it

Eye of storm: Paradip

A boy waits with all of his belongings for a rescue boat to take him back home through a water logged area near Balasore, Odisha, as river water flooded her village among thousands of others due to the cyclone that hit eastern India. (AFP Photo)

Three days of torrential rain
The super cyclone centred over coastal areas of Odisha for three days was accompanied by torrential rain as a tidal surge of about 7 to 10 metre that swept more than 20 km inland.

Diameter of cyclone: 200 km

Originated from

1999 super cyclone had originated from about 550 km east of the Andaman Islands as a depression

Storm Surge

While the impending storm Phailin may cause a storm surge of about 1.5-2 metre this time, the state witnessed it at 7 -10 metre in 1999.

Districts and towns affected
The storm in 1999 led to 45 cm to 95 cm of rainfall and affected 14 coastal districts, 28 coastal towns and two major cities of Bhubaneswar and Cuttack.

Death toll
While the official death toll then was 9,885 people, unofficial sources estimated the toll to be above 50,000. An estimated 1,500 children were orphaned. Of the total casualty, Jagatsinghpur district alone had accounted for 8,119 people.

Affected people
At least 13 million people, including 3.3 million children, 5 million women and nearly 3.5 million elderly people were affected in 1999.

Injured people

The storm had left 7,505 people injured

Livestock lost

3,15,886 head of cattle

Roof snatched

16,50,086 houses damaged, 23,129 houses washed away, 7,46,337 houses fully destroyed and 8,80,620 houses partially damaged

(Source: UNDP, Odisha Disaster Management Authority and Utkal University report)

A woman sits along with her child despondently on dry land waiting for relief to come as her home lies submerged in flood waters 31 October 1999 near Balasore in Orissa, as river water flooded her village among thousands of others due to the cyclone that hit eastern India. (AFP Photo)

On October 29, 1999 a super cyclone struck Odisha, causing widespread destruction, with at least 10,000 lives lost and an estimated 1.5 million people rendered homeless. Unofficial estimates suggest those figures could be much higher.

Also called the Cyclone 05B and Paradip Cyclone, it was the deadliest storm to hit India after 1971. The Joint Typhoon Warning Centre issued a disturbance alert on October 23. Another alert was issued on October 25 when the tropical disturbance reached the Andaman Sea. Soon, it became Tropical Depression 5B over the Malay Peninsula, and travelled northwestward. It became Tropical Storm 5B on October 26.

The storm gained in strength and became a cyclone in the Bay of Bengal on October 27, with a velocity of up to 300 km/hr. On October 29, it hit Odisha between Ersama and Balikuda in the Jagatsinghpur district, southwest of Paradip.

The cyclone battered the coastal districts for more than eight hours. A tidal wave that swept across low-lying areas near the coast, wiped out entire villages. Puri, Kendrapara, Khurda and Jagatsinghpur were among the districts worst affected by the cyclone, which was the second storm in a fortnight; the one on October 17, 1999 had struck Ganjam district and left at least 150 people dead in the state.

Though the capital city of Bhubaneswar was spared intensive damage by the October 29 storm, the signs of the havoc were visible everywhere, with reports indicating that even the gates of the then Odisha Chief Minister Giridhar Gamang's house were blocked by uprooted trees. A shell-shocked Gamang, speaking to a wire agency hours after the storm hit his state, said: “The devastation is beyond imagination . . . I have never seen Bhubaneswar and Cuttack cut off from the rest of the country in my life.”

The state government, unprepared to handle a storm of this magnitude, sought help of the Army and the Air Force to carry out massive relief and rescue operations.

Initially, the extent of damage was difficult to ascertain, with the cyclone tearing down bridges and making roads and railways impassable. Rescue efforts were further hampered by the complete breakdown of all communication links with affected areas, and the continuing bad weather.

Defence personnel using helicopters to drop food parcels reported thousands of people stranded on rooftops or pockets of high ground.

Standing crops were destroyed in nine coastal districts while tens of thousands of livestock died. Because of contamination of drinking water by human bodies and decomposed carcasses of animals, hundreds of people contracted chronic diarrhoea and other illnesses.

“When we found ourselves alive after the cyclone, we thought we were lucky. But now we think it would have been better had we died,” Sudhakar Nayak, a 32-year-old farmer from a village near Paradip, told a reporter. “Anything would have been better than the way we are living now.”

On November 1, 1999 a helicopter was attacked in Paradip by angry residents, while carrying the then Defence Minister George Fernandes, Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram and Minister for Mines Naveen Patnaik. They were protesting the lack of relief supplies, medicines and drinking water. “We are not here to listen to speeches. We want food and water,” they shouted.

“The full extent of the havoc caused by the cyclone in Orissa will not be known for some time, but what is already evident is the total unpreparedness of both the state and central governments for the disaster,” Hindustan Times said in an editorial. “What is unpardonable is that it was not something which could have caught the authorities by surprise, like an earthquake.”

Ten days after the monster storm swept Odisha, receding waters and opening up of a passage into the interiors of the state’s battered coastal areas framed a horrifying picture. In several blocks around the Paradip port in the Jagatsinghpur district, rescuers and aid workers discovered mounds of corpses in nearly every village, rotting alongside tonnes of carcasses.

In dozens of villages, there was barely anyone left alive to mourn the dead. Mass cremations were carried out to check the spread of diseases.

The relief efforts came under pointed criticism. In a damning article,the Outlook magazine reported: “The civic administration, critical for moving relief and saving people, is also in a mess in several districts. A typical case is that of a severely affected coastal district, some 100 km from Bhubaneswar. Its collector was transferred four days after disaster struck, the additional district magistrate’s post still lies vacant and the superintendent of police is on leave and has been replaced by a tainted officer to prevent mobs from looting trucks. The elected parliamentary representative, meanwhile, stays put in Delhi after making a cursory aerial survey and the local legislator lands up a good four days after the calamity.”

If the 1999 storm had a silver lining, it could well be the fact that 14 years later, in October 2013, when another major storm, Cyclone Phailin, hit the Odisha coast, the state administration was, by all accounts, much better prepared and equipped to deal with it. Consequently, the loss to life and property was minimised. That’s a lesson which other state governments need to learn too.

Also on this day:

1931 — Vaali, Tamil poet and lyricist, was born

1988 — Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay, social reformer and freedom fighter, passed away

2005 — Three bomb blasts in Delhi killed 62 people and injured more than 200

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