ACT Alert: India - No 2/99 - A second, "super" Cyclone hits Orissa

Report
from Action by Churches Together International
Published on 01 Nov 1999
Geneva, November 1, 1999- While issuing Appeal ASIN95 last week for the 18 October cyclone, which battered the coastal region of eastern India, a second and more powerful cyclone hit the coastal districts of Orissa again. The cyclone raged with a windspeed of 260 km per hour and whipped up 35 foot high tidal waves. Located in the Bay of Bengal, the cyclone crossed the coast at approximately 600 km southeast of the port of Paradeep in Orissa and continued to move northwest through the state.
The cyclone caused extensive damage in 10 districts and in the capital of Orissa, which remains cut off from the rest of the country. Reports received from ACT Members, Lutheran World Service-India (LWS I), United Evangelical Lutheran Church in India (UELCI) and the Churches Auxilary for Social Action (CASA) express fears of ten of thousands being killed and millions rendered homeless, with entire villages destroyed and vast areas along the coast inundated. Complete shut down of electricity, extensively damaged television and radio towers and other communication channels and severely disrupted road and train traffic has made the situation extremely difficult. The Indian Army and Air Force have been called in for rescue and relief operations but the high speed winds and pouring rains have made it virtually impossible for any effective intervention. Bubaneshwar, the state capital, now resembles a ghost town with streets strewn with uprooted trees, electric and telephone poles and wires and around 100 slum settlements flattened. Luckily, most of them had been evacuated.

Both the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister have called for all possible help from within the country and in view of the magnitude of the disaster, has sought assistance from the international community.

The latest update received from LWS India indicates that some communications links with Bubaneshwar have being restored. However, after 72 hours, there is no official confirmation on the extent of devastation. The acute need at present is for food, water and shelter. There are reports of shops and trucks stranded on the highway being looted by hungry people.

ACTions

LWS India has ongoing rehabilitation and development programs projects in several of the affected districts including a Disaster Preparedness project in the region. Having exhausted its own resources in responding to the series of disasters which have struck eastern India in recent weeks, at LWS India's request the ACT Coordinating Office sent US$ 30,000 from the Rapid Response Fund to immediately assist 10,000 families with:

  • provision of temporary shelter materials (plastic sheeting)
  • food rations for two weeks
  • family assistance (clothes, candles and matches)
While contact has been established with most staff based in the affected areas, there is as yet no news from four staff in Jagatsinghpur, one of the worst affected areas. A search team has since been sent to locate the four staff.

CASA is also mobilizing its staff from across the country and is working on an Appeal. An initial request for US$ 617,500 has been received for distribution of relief sets, tarpaulins, dry ration kits and medical aid.

UELCI has also sent a preliminary estimate of US$ 708,966 for blankets, food, health care, agriculture inputs to farmers and reconstruction assistance.

This office expects to issue a Revised ASIN95 Appeal based on the extended programs of the 3 ACT members. In view of the immense needs, the target of the revised Appeal is envisaged to be in the region of US $ 3 million.

Thank you for your attention.

For further information please contact:

ACT Appeals Officer, Neville Pradhan (phone +41 22 791 6035 or mobile phone ++ 41 79 285 2916)

ACT Communications Officer, Nils Carstensen (mobile phone ++41 79 358 3171)

ACT Web Site address: http://www.act-intl.org

ACT is a worldwide network of churches and related agencies meeting human need through coordinated emergency response.

The ACT Coordinating Office is based with the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in Switzerland.