India - Cyclone OCHA Situation Report No. 3

Report
from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 01 Nov 1999
Ref. OCHA/GVA - 99/0199
India - Cyclone
OCHA Situation Report No. 3
1 November 1999

No appeal for international assistance has been made for immediate post rescue and relief operations. However, international assistance will be accepted on humanitarian grounds

Situation

1. The powerful cyclone that hit the Indian State of Orissa on Friday 29 October 1999 in an area still recovering from the previous storm of 17 October 1999 has caused enormous damage. With winds reaching a speed of 260 kph, the cyclone destroyed thousands of houses, uprooted trees and snapped telecommunication and power lines.

2. According to information released by the Government and by UNDP in India, more than ten million people, that is about one third of the population, have been affected in eight districts of the state of Orissa. The entire coastal area of the state was severely hit. The Army has evacuated people to safer areas. The worst affected districts are Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur, Khurda, Puri and Cuttack. Paradip port, one of the busiest in the country, has been completely devastated. The industrial town of Cuttack has been severely damaged and the cyclone wiped out crops along a 140-kilometer stretch of the coast. Many villages in the path of the cyclone have been totally submerged. So far, the administration of the State of Orissa has been in no position to make a detailed assessment of the damage due to the weather conditions and the lack of communication facilities.

3. The media reported that continuing heavy rains along with gusty winds are hampering relief efforts. Currently the weather situation does not allow access to the affected area from outside via road, railway or air. It is also reported that the entire coastal region is still without electricity and potable water. The Government reported that telephone lines had been partially restored in Orissa.

4. According to the Meteorological Department for eastern India, the cyclone has weakened to a major depression and is currently hovering around the Orissa state capital Bhubaneshwar.

National Response

5. The Prime Minister has declared the disaster in Orissa as a national calamity. The federal Government has promised a grant of 3 billion rupees (approx. USD 69.284 million). This amount will supplement the USD 59.5 million which the Government awarded the area following the cyclone that hit the state two weeks ago.

6. The Government is taking the following measures:

  • Issued special orders to the states and public sector units to come to Orissa to help.
  • Deployed teams of railway and Ministry of Surface Transport officers as well as several engineers, to restore rail, road and other communication links.
  • Deployed teams of doctors.
  • Decided to deploy 1 IL76 plane and 6 MI helicopters to air drop food and other essential items.
  • Supplied satellite telephone sets, portable generators and other specialized items.
7. The army is sending personnel, including infantry battalions, engineers with bridging equipment and flat-bottomed boats, and signal detachments. A field medical unit comprising 30 ambulances and 340 doctors and paramedics has left for Orissa. A unit of 2,000 soldiers is already in the region.

8. No appeal for international assistance has been made for immediate post rescue and relief operations. However, international assistance will be accepted on humanitarian grounds. The Government is attempting to procure essential items from neighboring states and intends to have essential items supplied by sea, as surface transport links are disrupted.

International Response

9. OCHA has released an emergency grant of USD 50,000 for local purchase of relief items. OCHA has a also allocated a grant of USD 50,000 form the funds held in reserve from the Government of Norway Grant.

10. OCHA has alerted a United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team to assist the United Nations Resident Coordinator in New Delhi in the assessment of the situation and in the coordination of relief activities. OCHA is in close contact with UNDP New Delhi, which is monitoring the situation in consultation with the Government.

11. OCHA is prepared to serve as channel for cash contributions to be used for immediate relief assistance, in coordination/consultation with relevant organizations in the United Nations system. Funds should be transferred to OCHA account No. CO-590.160.0, Swift code: UBSWCHZH12A at the UBS AG, P.O. Box 2770, CH-1211 Geneva 2, with reference: OCHA - India - Cyclone. OCHA provides donors with written confirmation and pertinent details concerning the utilization of the funds contributed.

12. Donors are requested to inform OCHA Geneva, as indicated below, of bilateral relief missions /pledges/contributions and their corresponding values by item.

13. This situation report and further information on ongoing emergencies are also available on the OCHA Internet Website at http://www.reliefweb.int

Telephone number: +41-22-917 12 34
In case of emergency: Tel. +41-22-917 20 10

Desk Officers: Ms. S. Metzner-Strack/Mr. R. Mueller/Ms. M. Kondo,
OCHA Disaster Response Branch, direct Tel. +41-22-917-21 44 / 31 31 / 19 97

Press contact: Ms. E. Ponomareva, direct Tel. +41-22-917 23 36

Telex: 414242 OCHA CH
Fax: +41-22-917 00 23
E-mail: info@dha.unicc.org

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:
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