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The state of Orissa is on the east coat of India. Despite large mineral deposits it is one of the poorer states in India and the residence accuse central government of neglecting them.

As South Orissa was still recovering from a cyclone that hit on the 17th October 1999 a second cyclone hit the state capital of Bhubaneswar on the 29th October.  The statistics from this second cyclone make stark reading:

  • The cyclone dumped heavy torrential rain over southeast India, causing record breaking flooding in the low-lying areas.
  • A single tidal wave as big as 8 meters struck the coast of Orissa, traveling up to 20 km.
  • winds reached 160 mph.
  • 17,110 km² of crops were destroyed and over 1 million head of livestock perished.
  • 275,000 homes were destroyed, leaving 1.5 million people homeless.
  • More than 10 000 people died from the storm.
  • Another 3,312 people were injured.
  • 1.5 million people were left homeless.

Despite these figures the Indian government stated that the cyclone was not a national disaster.

The BBC says:

Although the cyclone had been spotted in advance, it took three days for relief efforts to begin. Five days after the storm, the co-ordination centre consisted of six workers, two telephones and a fax machine. India turned down a United Nations offer for an international fund-raiser, but countries including the US, Britain, Canada and Germany sent donations. About $20.8m had been pledged by March.

The government relief operation was accused of being slow, badly co-ordinated and poorly funded. As of April [2000], the government had still not released $200m in aid promised for the region.

Despite the scale of the disaster, it did not make the front of any UK paper. One headline, in London’s Evening Standard, highlighted the lack of response: Thousands dead in India - not many interested.

Most of the photographs in this gallery were taken in the slums of Bhubaneswar the day after the cyclone hit.


Click the individual thumbnail images to view them full size.


© R S Grove. 2000-2006