1970 Bhola cyclone

Infobox Hurricane
Name=1970 Bhola Cyclone
Image location=November 1970 Bhola Cyclone.jpg

November 11, 1970, at 0858 UTC.
Type=tropical cyclone
Formed=November 7, 1970
Dissipated=November 13, 1970
1-min winds=112
10-min winds=100

Fatalities=300,000–500,000 (Deadliest tropical cyclone of all time)
Areas=India, East Pakistan
Hurricane season=1970 North Indian Ocean cyclone season
The 1970 Bhola cyclone was a devastating tropical cyclone that struck East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and India's West Bengal on November 12, 1970. It was the deadliest tropical cyclone ever recorded, and one of the deadliest natural disasters in modern times. Up to 500,000 people lost their lives in the storm, primarily as a result of the storm surge that flooded much of the low-lying islands of the Ganges Delta. This cyclone was the sixth cyclonic storm of the 1970 North Indian Ocean cyclone season, and also the season's strongest, reaching a strength equivalent to a Category 3 hurricane.

The cyclone formed over the central Bay of Bengal on November 8 and travelled north, intensifying as it did so. It reached its peak with winds of 185 km/h (115 mph) on November 12, and made landfall on the coast of East Pakistan that night. The storm surge devastated many of the offshore islands, wiping out villages and destroying crops throughout the region. In the most severely affected Thana, Tazumuddin, over 45% of the population of 167,000 was killed by the storm.

The Pakistani government was severely criticized for its handling of the relief operations following the storm, both by local political leaders in East Pakistan and in the international media. The opposition Awami League gained a landslide victory in the province, and continuing unrest between East Pakistan and the central government triggered the Bangladesh Liberation War, which concluded with the creation of the state of Bangladesh.

Meteorological history

The remnants of Tropical Storm Nora from the Pacific, which had lasted for two days in the South China Sea, moved west over the Malay Peninsula on November 5.cite web|url=http://metocph.nmci.navy.mil/jtwc/atcr/1970atcr/pdf/wnp/70ts.pdf|title=Western North Pacific Tropical Storms 1970|author=Joint Typhoon Warning Center|work=Annual Typhoon Report 1970|year=1970|accessdate=2007-04-15|format=PDF] cite web|url=http://ams.allenpress.com/archive/1520-0477/52/6/pdf/i1520-0477-52-6-438.pdf|accessdate=2007-04-15|title=The deadliest tropical cyclone in history?|author=Frank, Neil|coauthors=Husain, S. A.|year=1971|month=June|format=PDF|publisher=American Meteorological Society|work=Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society] The remnants of this system contributed to the development of a new depression in the central Bay of Bengal on the morning of November 8. The depression intensified as it moved slowly northward, and the India Meteorological Department upgraded it to a cyclonic storm the next day. The storm became nearly stationary that evening near 14.5° N, 87° E, but began to accelerate to the north on November 10.cite web|url=http://docs.lib.noaa.gov/rescue/cd024_pdf/005ED281.pdf#page=10|title=Annual Summary - Storms & Depressions|work=India Weather Review 1970|author=India Meteorological Department|year=1970|accessdate=2007-04-15|format=PDF|pages=pp. 10-11]

The cyclone intensified into a severe cyclonic storm on November 11 and began to turn towards the northeast as it approached the head of the bay. A clear eye formed in the storm, and it reached its peak later that day with sustained winds of 185 km/h (115 mph) and a central pressure of 966 hPa, equivalent to that of a Category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. The cyclone made landfall on the East Pakistan coastline during the evening of November 12, around the same time as the local high tide. Once over land, the system began to weaken but was still considered a cyclonic storm on November 13 when it was about 100 km (65 miles) south-southeast of Agartala. The storm then rapidly weakened into a remnant area of low pressure over southern Assam that evening.


The Indian government received many ship reports from the Bay of Bengal that were giving meteorological information on the cyclone, but as Indo-Pakistani relations were generally hostile, the information was not passed on to the Pakistani government.cite news|title=Many Pakistan flood victims died needlessly|first=Jack|last=Anderson|url=http://www.thehurricanearchive.com/cache/55359264.pdf|format=PDF|work=Lowell Sun|date=1971-01-31|accessdate=2007-04-15] A large part of the population was reportedly taken by surprise by the storm.cite news|title=Cyclone May Be Worst Catastrophe Of The Century|first=Walter|last=Sullivan|work=New York Times|date=1970-11-22] There were indications that the storm warning system that existed in East Pakistan was not used properly, which may have cost tens of thousands of lives.cite news|title=East Pakistan Failed To Use Storm-Warning System|author=Staff writer|work=New York Times|date=1970-12-01] The Pakistan Meteorological Department issued a report calling for "danger preparedness" in the coastal regions in danger during the day on November 12. As the storm neared the coast, a "great danger signal" was broadcast on Pakistan Radio. Survivors later said that this meant little to them, but that they had recognised a No. 1 warning signal as representing the greatest possible threat.cite news|title=The Day The Cyclone Came To East Pakistan|first=Arnold|last=Zeitlin|url=http://www.thehurricanearchive.com/cache/43254554.pdf|format=PDF|publisher=Associated Press|work=Stars and Stripes|date=1970-12-11|accessdate=2007-04-15] It is estimated that 90% of the population in the area was aware of the cyclone before it hit, but only about 1% sought refuge in fortified structures.

Following two previously destructive cyclones in October 1960 which killed at least 16,000 people in East Pakistan,cite web|url=http://docs.lib.noaa.gov/rescue/mwr/090/mwr-090-03-0083.pdf|title=The tropical cyclone problem in East Pakistan|last=Dunn|first=Gordon|date=1961-11-28|accessdate=2007-04-15|format=PDF|work=Monthly Weather Review|publisher=American Meteorological Society] the Pakistani government contacted the American government for assistance in developing a system to avert future disasters. Gordon Dunn, the director of the National Hurricane Center at the time, carried out a detailed study and submitted his report in 1961. However, the government did not carry out all of the recommendations Dunn had listed.


The coast of the Bay of Bengal is particularly vulnerable to the effects of tropical cyclones, and there have been at least six cyclones to hit the region that killed over 100,000 people in total. The 1970 Bhola cyclone was not the most powerful of these, however; the 1991 Bangladesh cyclone was significantly stronger when it made landfall in the same general area with convert|250|km/h|mph|abbr=on|lk=off winds, a high-end Category 4 (it was a cat 5 briefly while offshore).

The 1970 cyclone is nonetheless the deadliest tropical cyclone on record and is one of the deadliest natural disasters in recent history. The exact death toll will never be known, but it is estimated that between 300,000 and 500,000 people lost their lives.cite web|url=http://www.iwmbd.org/html/PUBS/publications/P024.PDF|title=Cyclonic Storm Surge Modelling for Design of Coastal Polder|author=Kabir, M. M.|coauthors=Saha B. C.; Hye, J. M. A.|accessdate=2007-04-15|format=PDF|publisher=Institute of Water Modelling] A comparable number of people died as a result of the 1976 Tangshan earthquake and the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, but because of uncertainty in the number of deaths in all three disasters, it may never be known which one was the deadliest.


The cyclone brought widespread rain to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, with very heavy rain falling in places on November 8 and November 9. Port Blair recorded convert|130|mm|in|abbr=on|lk=off of rain on November 8, and there were a number of floods on the islands. The MV "Mahajagmitra", a 5,500-ton freighter en route from Calcutta to Kuwait, was sunk by the storm on November 12, with the loss of all 50 people on board. The ship sent out a distress signal and reported experiencing hurricane-force winds before it sank.cite news|title=Cyclone Toll Still Rising|author=Staff writer|publisher=Associated Press|work=Florence Morning News|url=http://www.thehurricanearchive.com/cache/56613933.pdf|format=PDF|date=1970-11-15|accessdate=2007-04-15] There was also widespread rain in West Bengal and southern Assam. The rain caused damage to housing and crops in both Indian states, with the worst damage occurring in the southernmost districts.

East Pakistan (now Bangladesh)

The meteorological station in Chittagong, convert|95|km|mi|abbr=on to the east of where the storm made landfall, recorded winds of convert|144|km/h|mph|abbr=on|lk=off before its anemometer was blown off at about 2200 UTC. A ship anchored in the port in the same area recorded a peak gust of convert|222|km/h|mph|abbr=on|lk=off about 45 minutes later. As the storm made landfall, it caused a convert|10|m|ft|abbr=off|adj=on high storm surge at the Ganges Delta. In the port at Chittagong, the storm tide peaked at about convert|4|m|ft|abbr=on above the average sea level, convert|1.2|m|ft|abbr=on of which was the storm surge.

Pakistani radio reported that there were no survivors on the 13 islands near Chittagong. A flight over the area showed the devastation was complete throughout the southern half of Bhola Island, and the rice crops of Bhola Island, Hatia Island and the nearby mainland coastline were destroyed.cite news|title=Pakistan Death Toll 55,000; May Rise to 300,000|author=Staff writer|publisher=Associated Press|work=New York Times|date=1970-11-16] Several seagoing vessels in the ports of Chittagong and Mongla were reported damaged, and the airports at Chittagong and Cox's Bazar were under convert|1|m|ft|abbr=on of water for several hours.cite news|title=Thousands of Pakistanis Are Killed by Tidal Wave|author=Staff writer|work=New York Times|date=1970-11-14]

Over 3.6 million people were directly affected by the cyclone, and the total damage from the storm was estimated at $86.4 million (1970 USD, $450 million 2006 USD).cite web|author=EM-DAT: the International Disaster Database|year=2007|title=Disaster List for Bangladesh|publisher=Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters|accessdate=2007-04-15|url=http://www.em-dat.net/disasters/Visualisation/profiles/countryprofile.php] The survivors claimed that approximately 85% of homes in the area were destroyed or severely damaged, with the greatest destruction occurring along the coast.cite web | url=http://www.laskerfoundation.org/awards/library/sommer/pdfs/east_bengal_cyclone_1970.pdf | title=East Bengal cyclone of November, 1970: Epidemiological approach to disaster assessment | last=Sommer | first=Alfred | coauthors=Mosley, Wiley | accessdate=2007-04-15 | format=PDF | publisher=The Lancet | date=1972-05-13 | pages=9 ] Ninety percent of marine fishermen in the region suffered heavy losses, including the destruction of 9,000 offshore fishing boats. Of the 77,000 onshore fishermen, 46,000 were killed by the cyclone, and 40% of the survivors were affected severely. In total, approximately 65% of the fishing capacity of the coastal region was destroyed by the storm, in a region where about 80% of the protein consumed comes from fish. Agricultural damage was similarly severe with the loss of $63 million worth of crops and 280,000 cattle. Three months after the storm, 75% of the population was receiving food from relief workers, and over 150,000 relied upon aid for half of their food.cite web | url=http://www.laskerfoundation.org/awards/library/sommer/pdfs/east_bengal_cyclone_1970.pdf | title=East Bengal cyclone of November, 1970: Epidemiological approach to disaster assessment | last=Sommer | first=Alfred | coauthors=Mosley, Wiley | accessdate=2007-04-15 | format=PDF | publisher=The Lancet | date=1972-05-13 | pages=11]

Death toll

Two medical relief surveys were carried out by the Pakistan-SEATO Cholera Research Laboratory: the first in November and the second in February and March. The purpose of the first survey was to establish the immediate medical needs in the affected regions, and the second, more detailed, survey was designed as the basis for long-term relief and recovery planning. In the second survey, approximately 1.4% of the area's population was studied.cite web | url=http://www.laskerfoundation.org/awards/library/sommer/pdfs/east_bengal_cyclone_1970.pdf | title=East Bengal cyclone of November, 1970: Epidemiological approach to disaster assessment | last=Sommer | first=Alfred | coauthors=Mosley, Wiley | accessdate=2007-04-15 | format=PDF | publisher=The Lancet | date=1972-05-13 | pages = 6]

The first survey concluded that the surface water in most of the affected regions had a comparable salt content to that drawn from wells, except in Sudharam, where the water was almost undrinkable with a salt content of up to 0.5%. The mortality was estimated at 14.2%—equivalent to a death toll of 240,000.cite web | url=http://www.laskerfoundation.org/awards/library/sommer/pdfs/east_bengal_cyclone_1970.pdf | title=East Bengal cyclone of November, 1970: Epidemiological approach to disaster assessment | last=Sommer | first=Alfred | coauthors=Mosley, Wiley | accessdate=2007-04-15 | format=PDF | publisher=The Lancet | date=1972-05-13 | pages = 5] Cyclone-related morbidity was generally restricted to minor injuries, but a phenomenon dubbed "cyclone syndrome" was observed. This consisted of severe abrasions on the limbs and chest caused by survivors clinging to trees to withstand the storm surge. Initially, there were fears of an outbreak of cholera and typhoid fever in the weeks following the storm,cite news|title=Pakistanis Fear Cholera's Spread|first=Sydney|last=Schanberg|authorlink=Sydney Schanberg|work=New York Times|date=1970-11-22] but the survey found no evidence of an epidemic of cholera, smallpox or any other disease in the region affected by the storm.

The totals from the second survey were likely a considerable underestimate as several groups were not included. The 100,000 migrant workers who were collecting the rice harvest, families who were completely wiped out by the storm and those who had migrated out of the region in the three months were not included, and by excluding these groups, the risk of herasey and exaggeration was reduced. The survey concluded that the overall death toll was, at minimum, 224,000. The worst effects were felt in Tazumuddin, where the mortality was 46.3%, corresponding to approximately 77,000 deaths in that Thana alone. The mean mortality throughout the affected region was 16.5%.cite web | url=http://www.laskerfoundation.org/awards/library/sommer/pdfs/east_bengal_cyclone_1970.pdf | title=East Bengal cyclone of November, 1970: Epidemiological approach to disaster assessment | last=Sommer | first=Alfred | coauthors=Mosley, Wiley | accessdate=2007-04-15 | format=PDF | publisher=The Lancet | date=1972-05-13 | pages=7]

The results showed that the highest survival rate was for adult males aged 15-49, while more than half the deaths were children under ten, who only formed a third of the pre-cyclone population. This suggests that the young, old and sick were selectively lost in the cyclone and its surge. In the months after the storm, the mortality of the middle-aged was lower in the cyclone area than in the control region, near Dhaka. This reflected the elimination of the less healthy individuals during the storm.cite web | url=http://www.laskerfoundation.org/awards/library/sommer/pdfs/east_bengal_cyclone_1970.pdf | title=East Bengal cyclone of November, 1970: Epidemiological approach to disaster assessment | last=Sommer | first=Alfred | coauthors=Mosley, Wiley | accessdate=2007-04-15 | format=PDF | publisher=The Lancet | date=1972-05-13 | pages=7–8]


Government response

The day after the storm struck the coast, three Pakistani gunboats and a hospital ship carrying medical personnel and supplies left Chittagong for the islands of Hatia, Sandwip and Kutubdia. Teams from the Pakistani army reached many of the stricken areas in the two days following the landfall of the cyclone.cite news|title=Toll In Pakistan Is Put At 16,000, Expected To Rise|author=Staff Writer|work=New York Times|date=1970-11-15] Pakistani President Yahya Khan returned from a state visit to China and overflew the disaster area on November 16. The president ordered "no effort to be spared" to relieve the victims. He also ordered that all flags should be flown at half-mast and announced a day of national mourning on November 21, a week after the cyclone struck land.cite news|title=Pakistan Now Puts Official Death Toll In Storm at 150,000|author=Staff writer|publisher=Reuters|work=New York Times|date=1970-11-19]

In the ten days following the cyclone, one military transport aircraft and three crop-dusting aircraft were assigned to relief work by the Pakistani government.cite news|title=Foreign Relief Spurred|first=Sydney|last=Schanberg|authorlink=Sydney Schanberg|work=New York Times|date=1970-11-22] The Pakistani government said it was unable to transfer military helicopters from West Pakistan as the Indian government did not grant clearance to cross the intervening Indian territory, a charge the Indian government denied. By November 24, the Pakistani government had allocated a further $116 million to finance relief operations in the disaster area.cite news|title=East Pakistani Leaders Assail Yahya on Cyclone Relief|author=Staff writer|publisher=Reuters|work=New York Times|date=1970-11-23] Yahya Khan arrived in Dhaka to take charge of the relief operations on November 24. The governor of East Pakistan, Vice Admiral Asham, denied charges that the armed forces had not acted quickly enough and said supplies were reaching all parts of the disaster area except for some small pockets.cite news|title=Yahya Directing Disaster Relief|author=Staff writer|publisher=United Press International|work=New York Times|date=1970-11-24]

A week after the cyclone's landfall, President Khan conceded that his government had made "slips" and "mistakes" in its handling of the relief efforts. He said there was a lack of understanding of the magnitude of the disaster. He also said that the general election slated for December 7 would take place on time, although eight or nine of the worst affected districts might experience delays, denying rumours that the election would be postponed.

As the conflict between East and West Pakistan developed in March, the Dhaka offices of the two government organisations directly involved in relief efforts were closed for at least two weeks, first by a general strike and then by a ban on government work in East Pakistan by the Awami League. Relief work continued in the field, but the long-term planning was curtailed.cite news|title=Pakistanis Crisis Virtually Halts Rehabilitation Work In Cyclone Region|first=Tillman|last=Durdin|work=New York Times|date=1971-03-11]

Criticism of government response

Quote box|align=right|quote=We have a large army, but it is left to the British Marines to bury our dead.|source=Sheikh Mujibur Rahmancite web|url=http://www.country-studies.com/bangladesh/emerging-discontent,-1966-70.html|title=Emerging Discontent, 1966-70|accessdate=2007-04-15|author=Library of Congress|work=Bangladesh Country Study] Political leaders in East Pakistan were deeply critical of the central government's initial response to the disaster. A statement released by eleven political leaders in East Pakistan ten days after the cyclone hit charged the government with "gross neglect, callous indifference and utter indifference". They also accused the president of playing down the news coverage. On November 19, students held a march in Dhaka in protest of the speed of the government responsecite news|title=Copter Shortage Balks Cyclone Aid|author=Staff writer|work=New York Times|date=1970-11-18] , and Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani addressed a rally of 50,000 people on November 24, when he accused the president of inefficiency and demanded his resignation. The president's political opponents accused him of bungling the efforts and some demanded his resignation.

The Pakistan Red Crescent began to operate independently of the government as the result of a dispute that arose after the Red Crescent took possession of 20 rafts donated by the British Red Cross.cite news|title=Disputes Snarl Cyclone Relief|author=Staff Writer|publisher=Associated Press|work=Charleston Daily Mail|url=http://www.thehurricanearchive.com/cache/39704983.pdf|format=PDF|date=1970-11-23|accessdate=2007-04-15] A pesticide company had to wait two days before it received permission for two of its crop dusters, which were already in the country, to carry out supply drops in the affected regions. The Pakistani only deployed a single helicopter to relief operations, with Yahya Khan later stating that there was no point deploying any helicopters from West Pakistan as they were unable to carry supplies.

A reporter for the "Pakistan Observer" spent a week in the worst hit areas in early January and saw none of the tents supplied by relief agencies being used to house survivors and commented that the grants for building new houses were insufficient. The "Pakistan Observer" regularly carried front page stories with headlines like "No Relief Coordination", whilst publishing government statements saying "Relief operations are going smoothly." In January, the coldest period of the year in East Pakistan, the National Relief and Rehabilitation Committee, headed by the editor of Ittefaq, said thousands of survivors from the storm were "passing their days under [the] open sky". A spokesman said families who were made homeless by the cyclone were receiving up to 250 rupees ($55 1971 USD, $279 2007 USD) to rebuild, but that resources were scarce and he feared the survivors would "eat the cash".cite news|title=Pakistan Cyclone Relief Still Jumbled and Inadequate|first=Arnold|last=Zeitlin|publisher=Associated Press|work=Long Beach Press-Telegram|url=http://www.thehurricanearchive.com/Viewer.aspx?
|format=PDF|date=1971-01-13 |accessdate=2007-04-15

Political consequences

The Awami League, the largest political party in East Pakistan, headed by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, swept to a landslide victory in the national elections in December 1970, partially as a result of dissatisfaction over the failures of the relief efforts of the national government. The elections for nine national assembly and eighteen provincial assembly seats had to be postponed until January 18 as a result of the storm.cite web|url=http://www.storyofpakistan.com/articletext.asp?artid=A140&Pg=2|accessdate=2007-04-15|title=General Elections 1970|author=Jin Technologies|date=2003-06-01]

The government's handling of the relief efforts helped exasperate the bitterness felt in East Pakistan, swelling the resistance movement there. Funds only slowly got through, and transport was slow in bringing supplies to the devastated regions. As tensions increased in March, foreign personnel evacuated due to fears of violence. The situation deteriorated further and developed into the Bangladesh Liberation War in March. This conflict widened into the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 in December and concluded with the creation of Bangladesh. This is one of the first times that a natural event helped to trigger a civil war.cite web|url=http://www.usaid.gov/our_work/humanitarian_assistance/disaster_assistance/publications/ofda_cjanalysis_02_21-2005.pdf|accessdate=2007-04-15|format=PDF|date=2005-02-21|title=A Critical Juncture Analysis, 1964-2003|last=Olson|first=Richard|publisher=USAID]

International response

India became one of the first nations to offer aid to Pakistan, despite the generally poor relations between the two countries, and by the end of November had pledged $1.3 million (1970 USD, $6.9 million 2007 USD) of assistance for the relief efforts.cite news|title=Pakistan Storm Relief a Vast Problem|first=Richard|last=Halloran|work=New York Times|date=1970-11-29] The Pakistani government refused to allow the Indians to send supplies into East Pakistan by air, forcing them to be transported slowly by road instead.cite news|title=People Still Dying Because Of Inadequate Relief Job|first=Sydney|last=Schanberg|authorlink=Sydney Schanberg|work=New York Times|date=1970-11-29] The Indian government also said that the Pakistanis refused an offer of military aircraft, helicopters and boats from West Bengal to assist in the relief operation.cite news|title=Pakistan Leader Visits Survivors|first=Sydney|last=Schanberg|authorlink=Sydney Schanberg|work=New York Times|date=1970-11-25]

US President Richard Nixon allocated a $10 million (1970 USD, $53 million 2007 USD) grant to provide food and other essential relief to the survivors of the storm, and the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan pledged that he would "assist the East Pakistan government in every way feasible."cite news|title=Official E. Pakistan Death Toll 148,116|first=Arnold|last=Zeitlin|publisher=Associated Press|work=Yuma Daily Sun|url=http://www.thehurricanearchive.com/cache/50108954.pdf|format=PDF|date=1970-11-20|accessdate=2007-04-15] The American government also sent a number of blankets, tents and other supplies. Six helicopters, two helicopters at an aid mission in Nepal and four from the United States, were sent to East Pakistan.cite news|title=Nixon Pledges $10-Million Aid For Storm Victims in Pakistan|first=James|last=Naughton|work=New York Times|date=1970-11-17] Some 200,000 tons of wheat were shipped from the United States to the stricken region. By the end of November, there were 38 helicopters operating in the disaster area, ten of which were British and ten American. The Americans had provided about 50 small boats and the British 70 for supply distribution.

CARE halted aid shipments to the country the week after the cyclone hit, due to unwillingness to let the Pakistani government handle distribution. However, by January, they had reached an agreement to construct 24,000 cement brick houses at a cost of about $1.2 million (1971 USD, $6.1 million 2007 USD). American concerns about delays by the Pakistani government in determining how the relief should be used meant that $7.5 million (1970 USD, $39.7 million 2007 USD) of relief granted by the US Congress had not been handed over in March. Much of the money was earmarked to be spent on constructing cyclone shelters and rebuilding housing. The American Peace Corps offered to send volunteers but were rebuffed by the Pakistani government.

A Royal Navy task force, centred on "HMS Intrepid" and "HMS Triumph", left Singapore for the Bay of Bengal to assist with the relief efforts. They carried eight helicopters and eight landing craft, as well as rescue teams and supplies. Fifty soldiers and two helicopters were flown in ahead of the ships to survey the disaster area and bring relief work.cite news|title=U.S. and British Helicopters Arrive to Aid Cyclone Area|author=Staff writer|publisher=Reuters|work=New York Times|date=1970-11-20] The British task force arrived off the Pakistan coast on November 24, and the 650 troops aboard the ships immediately began using landing craft to deliver supplies to offshore islands. An appeal by the British Disasters Emergency Committee raised about £1.5 million (1970 GBP, £33 million 2005 GBP) for disaster relief in East Pakistan.cite web|title=DEC Appeals and Evaluations|url=http://www.dec.org.uk/index.cfm/asset_id,905/index.html|accessdate=2007-04-15|author=Disasters Emergency Committee]

The Canadian government pledged $2 million of assistance. France and West Germany sent both helicopters and various supplies worth $1.3 million. Pope Paul VI announced that he would visit Dhaka during a visit to the Far East and urged people to pray for the victims of the disaster.cite news|title=Pope to Visit Pakistan|author=Staff writer|work=New York Times|date=1970-11-22] The Vatican later contributed $100,000 to the relief efforts. By the start of 1971, four Soviet helicopters were still operating in the region transporting essential supplies to hard-hit areas. The Soviet aircraft, which had drawn criticism from Bengalis, replaced the British and American helicopters that had operated immediately after the cyclone.

The government of Singapore sent a military medical mission to East Pakistan which arrived at Chittagong on December 1. They were then deployed to Sandwip where they treated nearly 27,000 people and carried out a smallpox vaccination effort. The mission returned to Singapore on December 22, after bringing about $50,000 worth of medical supplies and 15 tons of food for the victims of the storm.cite web|url=http://www.mindef.gov.sg/imindef/about_us/history/birth_of_saf/v03n11_history.html|title=Medical Mission to East Pakistan|accessdate=2007-04-15|author=Choy Choi Kee|publisher=MINDEF|date=1999-11-07] The Japanese cabinet approved a total of $1.65 million of relief funds in December. The Japanese government had previously drawn criticism for only donating a small amount to relief work.cite news|title=Tokyo Increases Aid|author=Staff writer|work=New York Times|date=1970-12-02] The first shipment of Chinese supplies to East Pakistan was a planeload of 500,000 doses of cholera vaccine, which was not necessary as the country had adequate stocks. The Chinese government sent $1.2 million in cash to Pakistan. Mohammad Reza Pahlavi declared that the disaster was also an Iranian one and responded by sending two planeloads of supplies within a few days of the cyclone striking. Many smaller, poorer Asian nations sent nominal amounts of aid.

The United Nations donated $2.1 million in food and cash, whilst UNICEF began a drive to raise a further million. UNICEF helped to re-establish water supplies in the wake of the storm, repairing over 11,000 wells in the months following the storm.cite web|url=http://www.unicef.org/publications/files/1946-2006_Sixty_Years_for_Children.pdf#page=12|title=Sixty Years For Children|format=PDF|author=UNICEF|accessdate=2007-04-15] UN Secretary-General U Thant made appeals for aid for the victims of the cyclone and the civil war in August, in two separate relief programs. He said only about $4 million had been contributed towards immediate needs, well short of the target of $29.2 million.cite news|title=Thant Again Asks Aid To Pakistanis|first=Sam Pope|last=Brewer|work=New York Times|date=1971-08-13] By the end of November, the League of Red Cross Societies had collected $3.5 million to supply aid to the victims of the disaster.

The World Bank estimated that it would cost $185 million to reconstruct the area devastated by the storm. The bank drew up a comprehensive recovery plan for the Pakistani government. The plan included restoring housing, water supplies and infrastructure to their pre-storm state. It was designed to combine with a much larger ongoing flood-control and development program.cite news|title=World Bank Offers Plan to Reconstruct East Pakistan|author=Staff writer|work=New York Times|date=1970-12-02] The Bank provided $25 million of credit to help rebuild the East Pakistan economy and to construct protective shelters in the region. This was the first time that the IDA had provided credit for reconstruction.cite web|title=Cyclone Protection and Coastal Area Rehabilitation Project|url=http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/EXTABOUTUS/EXTARCHIVES/0,,contentMDK:20485265~pagePK:36726~piPK:437378~theSitePK:29506,00.html|accessdate=2007-04-15|year=2005|author=World Bank] By the start of December, nearly $40 million had been raised for the relief efforts by the governments of 41 countries, organisations and private groups.

Disaster preparedness

In December, the League of Red Cross Societies drafted a plan for immediate use should a comparable event to the cyclone hit other "disaster prone countries". A Red Cross official stated some of the relief workers sent to East Pakistan were poorly trained, and the organisation would compile a list of specialists. The UN General Assembly adopted a proposal to improve its ability to provide aid to disaster-stricken countries.cite news|title=World Red Cross Groups Plan Aid for 'Disaster-Prone' Areas|first=Thomas|last=Hamilton|work=New York Times|date=1970-12-14]

In 1966, the Red Crescent began to support the development of a cyclone warning system for the residents of the Ganges Delta.cite web|url=http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/asp/Events/EmergencyTelecomWorkshops/Bangladesh_Workshop/Presentation/11)%20Cyclone%20Preparedness%20Program%20%5BCPP%5D.pdf |format=PDF|title=Cyclone Preparedness Programme|accessdate=2007-04-15|publisher=International Telecommunication Union] On November 20, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution that both expressed its sympathy to the Pakistani government and called on the UN specialised agencies and governmental and non-governmental organisations to help Pakistan with both its short-term relief and long-term reconstruction and development. This developed into a Cyclone Preparedness Programme in 1972, which is today run by the government of Bangladesh and the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society. The programme's objectives are to raise public awareness of the risks of cyclones and to provide training to emergency personnel in the coastal regions of Bangladesh.

In the 30 years after the 1970 cyclone, over 200 cyclone shelters were constructed in the coastal regions of Bangladesh. When the next destructive cyclone approached the country in 1991, volunteers from the Cyclone Preparedness Programme warned people of the cyclone two to three days before it struck land. Over 350,000 people fled their homes to shelters and other brick structures, whilst others sought high ground. While the 1991 cyclone killed over 138,000 people, this was significantly less than the 1970 storm, partly because of the warnings sent out by the Cyclone Preparedness Programme. However, the 1991 storm was significantly more destructive, causing 1.5 billion dollars in damage (2 billion inflation-adjusted) compared to the 1970 storm's 86.4 million dollars in damage (inflation-adjusted: 480 million).cite web|url=http://www.dfid.gov.uk/aboutDFID/performance/files/ev555.pdf|format=PDF|title=Evaluation / review of the ODA-financed relief and rehabilitation programmes in Bangladesh following the cyclone of April 1991|author=Steve Jones et al.|publisher=DFID|accessdate=2007-04-15|year=1993|month=July|pages=pp. 11 & 55]

ee also

*List of tropical cyclones
*1991 Bangladesh cyclone
*Storm surge
*List of Bangladesh tropical cyclones


External links

* [http://nirapad.org/ Data on Bangladesh disasters] from NIRAPAD disaster response organisation
* [http://tesla.liketelevision.com/liketelevision/tuner.php?channel=318&format=tv&theme=history On this day - liketelevision]
* [http://www.islamonline.net/english/In_Depth/DisasterVictims/Articles/10.shtml Islam Online - Disaster Victims]
* [http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/EXTABOUTUS/EXTARCHIVES/0,,contentMDK:20485265~pagePK:36726~piPK:437378~theSitePK:29506,00.html East Pakistan - Cyclone Protection and Coastal Area Rehabilitation Project] - World Bank Archives

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