The 1991 Bangladesh Cyclone

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01925854215 01729731844 Bangladesh cycloneOn 15 November 2007 a severe cyclone struck Bangladesh, killing more than 3,500 people. Cyclone Sidr struck overnight packing winds of 250 kph (155 mph). The Category 4 cyclone triggered a 15-foot (5-metre) high tidal surge that devastated three coastal towns and forced 3.2 million people to evacuate. The cyclone affected 8.9 million people and 1.5 million people had their homes damaged or destroyed. Crops and food sources were also destroyed. Community infrastructure was destroyed with roads, trees and more than 2,000 schools damaged by the destructive winds.

SummaryBangladesh is a low-lying country in South Asia surrounded by India, Myanmar and the Bay of Bengal. Despite making some progress in improving standards of living, its human development ranking (UNDP, Human Development Report 2007/08) is 140 out of 177 countries. Aside from city-states, Bangladesh is the most densely populated country in the world. The total population is 144 million. The population is reasonably ethnically homogeneous. Over 97% are Bengali, the remaining 3% are Biharis, tribal peoples and Rohinga refugees. Bangla is the state language and is understood by the majority of the population including tribal groups. The 2003 Human Development Report states that 36% of Bangladeshis live on less than $1 per day and 82.8% on less than $2 per day.

Poverty is exacerbated by frequent natural disasters in the form of floods and cyclones. In 1998, the worst floods ever witnessed covered almost two-thirds of the country, affecting around 15 million people. Floods occurred again in 2000 and 2002. However, with assistance from the international community, including NGOs like World Vision, early warning systems, construction of cyclone shelters and disaster and evacuation planning can help to reduce the impact of climate disasters on peoples lives

The 1991 Bangladesh cyclone (IMD designation:BOB 01, JTWC designation:02B) was among the deadliest tropical cyclones on record. On the night of 29 April 1991 a powerful tropical cyclone struck the Chittagong district of southeastern Bangladesh with winds of around 250 km/h (155 mph). The storm forced a 6 metre (20 ft) storm surge inland over a wide area, killing at least 138,000 people and leaving as many as 10 million homeless.

Meteorological history

Storm path An area of persistent cloudiness, in part due to the monsoon trough, developed into a tropical depression on April 22 in the Bay of Bengal. The wind speed and overall size increased, with the depression becoming Tropical Storm 02B on the 24th. The enormous wind field at the time encompassed nearly the entire bay. The tropical storm continued slowly northwestward, slowly strengthening to a cyclonestrength storm on the 27th. The cyclone moved between a high pressure system to its northwest and east, and as mid-level westerlies met up with the storm, the cyclone moved northeastward. The westerlies enhanced upper level outflow, and in combination with warm water temperatures the cyclone steadily strengthened to a major hurricane on the 28th. On the 28th and 29th, as the system increased its speed to the north-northeast, the cyclone rapidly intensified to a 160 mph Cyclone, the equivalent to a Category 5 hurricane. Late on the 29th, Cyclone 02B made landfall a short distance south of Chittagong as a slightly

weaker 155 mph Category 4 Cyclone. The storm rapidly weakened over land, and dissipated on the 30th over southeast Asia.

ImpactFlooding around a river in Bangladesh At least 138,000 people were killed by the storm,[1] with the majority of deaths in the Chittagong area. Most deaths were from drowning, with the highest mortality among children and the elderly. Although cyclone shelters had been built after the 1970 Bhola cyclone, many had just a few hours of warning and did not know where to go for shelter. Others who knew about the storm refused to evacuate because they did not believe the storm would be as bad as forecast. Even so it is estimated over 2 million people did evacuate from the most dangerous areas, possibly mitigating the disaster substantially.

Property damage

A damaged village in Bangladesh, surrounded by flooded fields, three weeks after the storm had struck The storm caused an estimated $1.5 billion (1991 US dollars) in damage. The high velocity wind and the storm surge devastated the coastline. Although a concrete levee was in place near the mouth of the Karnaphuli River in Patenga, it was washed away by the storm surge. The cyclone uprooted a 100-ton crane from the Port of Chittagong, and smashed it on the Karnaphuli River Bridge, effectively breaking it into two partitions. A large number of boats and smaller ships ran aground. Bangladesh Navy and Bangladesh Air Force, both of which had bases in Chittagong, were also heavily hit. The Isha Khan Naval Base at Patenga

was flooded, with heavy damages to the ships. Most of the fighter planes belonging to the air force were damaged. Approximately 1 million homes were destroyed, leaving about 10 million people (a substantial portion of Bangladesh's population) homeless.

Environmental impactThe storm surge subsequently caused the embankment, as well as whole villages, to be swept away. For an additional three to four weeks after the storm had dissipated, mass land erosion resulted in more and more farmers losing their land, and therefore, the number of unemployed rose.[2]

International response

Bangladeshis unloading international aid from a US helicopter The United States amphibious task-force, consisting of 15 ships and 2,500 men, returning to the US after the Gulf War was diverted to the Bay of Bengal. This was part of Operation Sea Angel, one of the largest military disaster relief efforts ever carried out, with the United Kingdom, China, India, Pakistan and Japan also participating.[1] Operation Sea Angel began on May 10, 1991 when President Bush directed the US military to provide humanitarian assistance. A Contingency Joint Task Force under the command of Lieutenant General Henry C. Stackpole, consisting of over 7,000 US soldiers, was subsequently sent to Bangladesh to provide food, water, and medical care to nearly two million people. The efforts of U.S. troops, which included 3,000 tons of supplies, are credited with having saved as many as 200,000 lives.[3]

List of Bangladesh tropical cyclonesBangladesh, due to its unique geographic location, suffers from devastating tropical cyclones frequently. The funnel-shaped northern portion of the Bay of Bengal causes tidal bores when cyclones make landfall, and thousands of people living in the coastal areas are

affected. Some of the most devastating natural disasters in recorded history with high casualties were tropical cyclones that hit the region now forming Bangladesh. Among them, the 1970 Bhola cyclone alone claimed more than 500,000 lives.

Storm preparednessBangladesh lacks any satellites of its own. The three satellite ground stations, located in Betbunia, Talibabad, and Mohakhali, are used to receive feeds from other satellites. Bangladesh Space Research and Remote Sensing Organisation (SPARRSO), a Government agency under the ministry of defence[1] provides storm predictions and early warnings using feeds from NASA and NOAA's satellites. The warnings are usually given in a scale of 10, with the number10 being given for the deadliest storms. A detailed program for storm prevention was outlined by the Government following the cyclone of 1991. A Comprehensive Cyclone Preparedness Programme (CPP) is jointly planned, operated, and managed by the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief and the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society, and a volunteer force of more than 32,000 are trained to help in warning and evacuation in the coastal areas.[2] Around 2,500 cyclone shelters have been constructed in the coastal regions. The shelters are built on elevated platforms, and serve the dual role of schools or community centers during normal weather. In Patenga, Chittagong, the coast has been heavily protected with concrete levees. Also, an afforestation has been initiated in the coastal regions to create a green belt. Cyclones are a product of heat and moisture, which can last up to 24 hours. Low pressure is the main weather associated with cyclones. Cyclones can cause devastating damage, and are known to knock out electric and water supplies. It is recommended people have a supply kit ready in case a cyclone hits their area.

StormsHistorical records

Source: SMRC-No.1 - The impact of tropical cyclones on the coastal regions of SAARC countries and their influence in the region, SAARC Meteorological Research Center (SMRC),1998 Type of Disturbance Severe Cyclonic Storm with a core of hurricane Relevant Information Coast: The cyclone crossed the coast of Backerganj (Sarkar Bala). Loss and damage: People killed = 200,000. Reference/Source of Information Ain-i-Akbari Riyaz-UsSalatin

SL. Date/Year No. 1. 1582 AD (Date and month N/A)

Bengal District

The destruction was reported to have been caused by a storm wave. winds According to Banglapedia, a fivehour hurricane and thunderstorm destroyed houses and boats in the coast near Bakerganj (presently in Barisal and Patuakhali).[2] Only Hindu temples with a strong foundation were spared. A tropical storm hit the eastern side of Bakerganj (now Barisal) near the mouth of the Meghna River estuary, causing devastation of crops. Casualty: unknown. Coast: The cyclone crossed the Sundarbans coast 3. 1699 (Date and month N/A) Severe Cyclonic Storm Loss and damage: People killed = 50,000. Other information are not available. Coast: The cyclone crossed the Sundarbans coast

Gazetteer, 24 Parganas-by L.S.S. O'Malley, ICS, 1914, published- by the Bengal SOC Dept.


1585 (Date and mo