1977 Andhra Pradesh cyclone
The 1977 Andhra Pradesh cyclone is considered India's first super cyclonic storm. The first storm mostly affected Andhra Pradesh in which approximately 10,000 were estimated to be killed by the storm. The second storm that had occurred on October 29, had affected the eastern part of the Orissa state with winds up to 160 mph and waves as high as 30 feet high. There is no accurate estimate how many fatalities were resulted from the second storm, but six districts were destroyed and 16 million local citizens were affected.
|Extremely severe cyclonic storm (IMD scale)|
|Category 4 (Saffir–Simpson scale)|
|Formed||November 14, 1977|
|Dissipated||November 20, 1977|
|Highest winds||3-minute sustained: 205 km/h (125 mph)
1-minute sustained: 250 km/h (155 mph)
|Lowest pressure||919 hPa (mbar); 27.14 inHg|
(Estimated up to 50,000)
|Damage||$498.5 million (1977 USD)|
|Areas affected||Andhra Pradesh|
|Part of the 1977 North Indian Ocean cyclone season|
The worst affected areas were in the Krishna River delta region. The island of Diviseema, which was hit by a six metre high storm surge, experienced a loss of life running into the thousands. Hundreds of bodies were floating in the waters and bodies bloated beyond recognition were consigned to mass pyres. Landslides ripped off the railway lines in the Waltair-Kirandal route. About 100 people who had left their homes to seek shelter in a church in Bapatla village were killed when the building collapsed. Fields of paddy and cash crops were submerged by the tidal waves. Thirteen sailing vessels, including some foreign ones, went missing in the storm.
About 100 villages were marooned or washed away by the cyclonic storms and the ensuing floods and a total of 10,841 killed or missing, and 34 lakh rendered homeless. According to the Janata party, at least 50,000 people were believed to have been killed by the storm, substantially higher than reported by the government.
The large loss of life prompted the establishment of early warning meteorological stations on the coast of Andhra Pradesh. Cyclone shelters and other measures for disaster management were also taken. A memorial, at the point of furthest advance of the tidal wave, near the town of Avanigadda, was built in memory of the people who died in the storm.
The next cyclone (1990) that also occurred in Andhra Pradesh, showed that there was a large improvement in disaster management, effective warnings ahead of time, and better meteorological equipment which dramatically reduced the death rate (compared to the cyclone in 1977).
In the wake of the disaster, officials in India were accused of covering up the scale of damage and loss of life. Members of the Janata party, an opposing political group to the state government in place at the time, claimed that the cover up was to hide criminal negligence which resulted in tens of thousands of fatalities. Following these accusations, five high-ranking government officials resigned from their positions.
- The storm in Orissa. Economist, 00130613, 11/6/1999, Vol. 353, Issue 8144
- The Associated Press (November 28, 1977). "Coverup alleged in India's cyclone disaster". Bangor Daily News. Retrieved November 14, 2010.
- Raghavan, S., and S. Rajesh. "Trends In Tropical Cyclone Impact: A Study In Andhra Pradesh, India." Bulletin Of The American Meteorological Society 84.5 (2003): 635. Science & Technology Collection. Web. 15 Sept. 2016.
- Staff Writer (December 2, 1977). "5 in India Resign Over Cyclone Aid". Los Angeles Times.
Raghavan, S., and S. Rajesh. "Trends In Tropical Cyclone Impact: A Study In Andhra Pradesh, India." Bulletin Of The American Meteorological Society 84.5 (2003): 635. Science & Technology Collection. Web. 15 Sept. 2016.