Tornado in India

Monday, April 19, 2010

The tornado that ripped through the Indian states of Bihar and Bengal on April 13, with winds up to 200km/h, destroyed 70,000 homes and killed more than 130 people, officials have said. The accompanying storm also devastated areas in Assam, and the Rangpur area of Bangladesh.

According to the State Inter-Agency Group up to a million people's livelihoods have been affected in Uttar Dinajpur alone through loss of cattle, the destruction of thousands of hectares of crops as well as infrastructure and housing. It was the most violent storm since Cyclone Aila hit the area in May last year killing 150 people.

Aid workers have battled closed railways and roads as well as downed power lines to get relief to the people affected. Telecommunications have also been badly affected. As aid workers reach all the affected areas the death toll is expected to rise.

The worst hit area is said to be Bihar, where 70 people were killed.

Tornados form very quickly, unlike the cyclones that occur often in the area. This meant the Indian weather office had been unable to issue a warning. Many people were caught by surprise after retiring for the night.

Some reports suggest a link between the tornado and the unseasonably high temperatures in the area, in excess of 40°C.

ACT Alliance response
Currently the full extent of the damage is unknown. ACT members in the area are assessing immediate and longer-term needs of the affected populations. ACT members CASA and LWF/LWSIT are conducting first-hand assessments with local partners, in coordination with the Government, state level Inter-Agency Groups and each other.

ACT will issue an appeal for this emergency, having received a proposal from CASA for relief assistance for food rations and non-food items. A proposal from LWF/LWSIT is also expected.