The death toll in the cyclone disaster in southeast India has risen to six hundred and many more are feared dead.
The death toll in the cyclone disaster in southeast India has risen to six hundred and many more are feared dead. The cyclone swept in from the Bay of Bengal on Saturday (12 May) and devastated the coastal area of Andhra Pradesh state. Many villages were also flooded, hampering rescue work. As the waters recede the true extent of the damage is beginning to be assessed. At least half a million people have been left homeless and there has been massive loss of property and farmland.
SYNOPSIS: The district of Nellore was one the worst affected by the hurricane-force winds and torrential rain. Advance warning of the storm resulted in most residents being evacuated and government officials think the death toll would have been much higher without the emergency alarm system. More than ten thousand people were killed by a cyclone in this area in 1977. Relief supplies were flown into the flooded region by helicopter, but many small fishing villages were cut off for several days.
Power supplies to the stricken area were cut and there were fears of cholera and typhoid epidemics as drinking water became contaminated by the floods. The Indian government sent in medical teams and supplies to vaccine, but the most immediate problem for the survivors is finding somewhere to live With hundreds of thousands of houses destroyed, the victims are being sheltered in emergency camps. At least forty people are known to have been killed in this village, when the flood waters swept in during the night.
Apart from the human tragedy - the government is now beginning to realise the economic loss incurred by the cyclone. In Nellore, some twenty-one thousand hectares (57,000 acres), of rice, tobacco and other crops were destroyed in the storm, and thousands of cattle were killed. Unofficial estimates of the most of the devastation in this state alone are put at five billion rupees (625 million dollars).