1970 Bangladesh Cyclone: The Most Destructive Cyclones in the History of Mankind
Bhola Cyclone Facts
In 1970, a tropical cyclone called Bhola hit Eastern Pakistan (currently known as Bangladesh) and India. It was unmatched in its destructive power and the number of human lives it took. This cyclone came from West Bengal, an Indian part, on November 12, 1970. The worst cyclone ever took 500,000 lives. Most people were killed by a storm. The surge has flooded much of the lowlands in the Ganges delta. The hurricane caused by the cyclone was rated as a 3rd-degree hurricane. The highest wind speed was 185 km/h. Bhola cyclone 1970 in Bangladesh led to more than $490 million in losses and destroyed almost 90% of the buildings in the region. The natural phenomenon also brought storm waves to Tazumuddin, which wiped out all villages and towns, killing 45% of the citizens.
The Pakistani government has been harshly criticized both by local political leaders and media in East Pakistan and by international society. The world accused the Pakistani government of delaying aid to those affected by the storm. There were many who were not indifferent. For example, the great Bhola cyclone inspired the two Bengali musicians Ravi Shankar and George Harrison to organize a benefit concert for Bangladesh. All money from the tickets was transferred to help the victims of the disaster.
The Formation of the 1970 Bangladesh Cyclone
The Bhola cyclone formed over the Bengal Bay, it’s a central part to be precise, on November 8 and moved northward, its strength increasing with each passing hour. It peaked at 158 kilometers per hour on November 12, when it struck the east coast of Pakistan. The storm devastated many of the coastal islands, destroying villages and crops. In the worst-affected areas, 167,000 people, nearly 45 percent of the population, were killed.
On November 11, the hurricane developed into a severe tropical storm and began to turn northeast as it approached the base of the bay. It was clear that a storm was coming, and it peaked when wind speeds reached 185 km/h and pressure rose to 966 hPa, the equivalent of a third-degree hurricane.
On November 13, 1970, an extremely powerful Bangladesh hurricane 1970, moving at up to 160 km/h, caused gigantic ocean waves and continuous rainfall that caused flooding in the Ganges delta. The flood killed nearly half a million people, who had peacefully lived on the southern coast of East Pakistan. This event is known to be the worst natural disaster of the 20th century, which was caused by a cyclone.
The Cause of the 1970 Cyclone
Bangladesh lies between India and Burma in the northern Bay of Bengal, whose warm waters cause regular tropical cyclones, and the powerful Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers in southern Bangladesh have created the largest river delta in the globe, the enormous size of which means that a third of the heavily populated country is just 7 meters below sea level.
The coastal oceanic landline serves as a natural barrier to the penetration of ocean waters into the interior of the country but in November 1970 a cyclone of extraordinary power formed over the Bay of Bengal, causing ocean waves up to 8 meters high that began to flood the mainland of Bangladesh on November 12. Waves got their power on November 13 and flooded coastal islands, a significant part of the mainland territory, completely destroying buildings, highways, and local infrastructure, killing almost 500,000 people.
The tragedy of the Bhola cyclone in Bangladesh in 1970 led to a series of United Nations resolutions and calls to find ways and means to mitigate the unpredicted and terrible effects of tropical cyclones. Bangladesh, with its dense population and vast low-lying coastal plains, has become an international leader in disaster risk reduction and resilience. Tropical cyclones pose one of the biggest threats to human life and state property, even in their initial stages. They include a number of different hazards that separately can have a significant impact on human life and state property, such as storm surges, flooding, high winds, tornadoes, and lightning. Combined, they greatly increase the likelihood of loss of life and property damage.
The inability of the local government to quickly and effectively help the victims of the Bangladesh cyclone 1970 and solve the issue of their safety led to a political conflict between the Pakistan central government and East Pakistan, civil war, the Third Indo-Pakistani War, and the declaration of independence of Bangladesh in 1971.
During the war for independence, which lasted nine months, an estimated three hundred thousand to three million people died. This was hardly the first time in modern history that a natural disaster provoked a civil war, external intervention, and the breakup of one country into two independent states.