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2010 EASTERN STORM

DISCREPTION:

At approximately 11 pm local time, 13 April 2010, a severe


storm struck parts of Bangladesh and eastern India. It lasted
about 90 minutes, with the most intense portion spanning 30–
40 minutes. As of 16 April, more than 140 deaths have been
reported. At least 91 people died in the Indian state of Bihar,

44 in West Bengal, and 4 in Assam. In Bangladesh, five


deaths and two hundred injuries were reported. Most of the
deaths were women and children crushed when their huts
were destroyed. Over 91,000 dwellings were destroyed in
India and several thousand in Bangladesh; approximately
300,000 dwellings were at least partially damaged. Both mud
and pucca housing was damaged by the storm. Nearly
500,000 people were left homeless or otherwise affected by
the storm

EFFECTS:

The storm struck in northeastern parts of West Bengal and


Bihar states, with winds estimated from 120–160
kilometers/hour (75–100 miles/hour), then moved into
Bangladesh. The strong winds uprooted trees, displaced roof
tops, and snapped telephone and electricity lines. The worst
damage was reported in the towns of Hemtabad, Islampur,
Kaliaganj, Karandighi, and Raiganj. Purina had the most
reported casualties. Power was lost throughout the area, and
communication was difficult due to severed phone lines and
damaged rail lines. Nepal, which relies on India for part of its
power generation, was also affected by the outages.
In Araria district, a jail was partially destroyed causing the
transfer of 600+ inmates to another facility. In Rangpur, a
police officer was killed and five other injured when a wall of
the Rangpur Police Line building collapsed. The police
barracks in Raiganj, which houses 300 officers, were partially
destroyed. Several other police buildings had their roofs
blown away.
The initial strong winds were followed by heavy rains,
causing further damage to weakened structures. Widespread
damage to crops and livestock was also reported in both West
Bengal and Bihar, as well as in Bangladesh. More than 8,000
hectares of maize was destroyed in West Bengal. More than
4,000 hectares of maize and boro was destroyed in
Bangladesh. In Assam, paddy crops, bananas, and other
vegetation were damaged. Assam crops were already in poor
shape due to earlier hail storms before 13 April storm, and
were further damaged by another strong storm on 15 April.

Casualties:
People affected: 60,000
Death: 190
Injured: N/A
Missing: N/A

Response Activities and Support Provided:


Rescue efforts have been inhibited as many roads, including
National Highway 34, are blocked by downed trees and
telephone poles. Medical personnel and supplies were quickly
rushed to the affected areas, and aid packages were
announced. Aid workers began to distribute rice, dried fruits,
water, and temporary tarpaulin shelters on 15 April. However,
many remote regions remained inaccessible as of 16 April.
Aid workers said that hundreds of thousands of victims had
not received any relief by 16 April. Another rainstorm on 15
April added to frustrations.
On 16 April, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced an
ex gratia payment Rs 100,000 to the next of kin to persons
killed in the storm. The money will come from the Prime
Minister's National Relief Fun. In the Lok Sabha, members
have taken turns blaming each other's political parties for the
delays. On 19 April, The Communist Party of India (Marxist)
(CPM) asked for central assistance of Rs 10 billion for Bihar
and Rs 5 billion for West Bengal. Prashanta Mazumdar
additionally asked for government workers to assess the
damage and distribute relief. Indian National Congress (INC)
member Deepa Dasmunshi countered by saying the state
administration had failed miserably. All India Trinamool
Congress (AITC) leader Sudip Bandopadhyay agreed and
added that the CPM was "more involved in state terrorism"
against political opponents than distribution of aid. The CPM
responded that West Bengal had done its best to provide
relief. Dasmunshi strongly disagreed, claiming "not even one
tarpaulin or piece of cloth has reached the victims. The state
government has failed." The CPM and other left parties
accused Dasmunshi and Bandopadhyay of "playing politics at
the cost of human lives". Janata Dal (United) leader Sharad
Yadav demanded that the House have a more thorough
discussion on the matter.
In Bihar
In Bihar, storm victims are being given rice, cash, and
asbestos sheets to rebuild their houses. Families of the
deceased are also receiving money to pay for last rites plus an
ex gratia payment of Rs 150,000 from the Chief Minister's
Relief Fund. Phone service was restored to most of the region
after 30 hours without service, however, areas near the Nepal-
India border remained without power on 17 April. On 20
April, the Bihar Electricity Board said that it would be at least
a month to repair all damaged electrical transmission towers.
Rolling blackouts were conducted in Nepal to combat the
decreased electricity availability.
On 16 April, the Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee called
for the firing of Minister for Disaster Management Devesh
Chandra Thakur, who was reportedly on vacation and had not
visited the affected areas. On 22 April, the INC announced
that it would distribute food and other relief to storm victims
in the Purnia, Kisangani, Katihar, Araria, and Supaul districts.
In West Bengal
In West Bengal, Civil Defense Minister Srikumar Mukherjee
is personally overseeing rescue efforts. As of 15 April, all
major roads and rail lines were cleared and power had been
restored to 50% of the population. However, some of the
hardest hit towns had not yet received any government aid by
16 April, causing widespread anger. Mukherjee admit state
government was struggling to distribute food rations, blaming
insufficient manpower for the delay. He has since asked
district officials to purchase supplies locally. According to
international aid agency ActionAid, only 7,000 tarpaulins had
been distributed by 17 April; Mukherjee claimed 57,000 had
been distributed. The state has announced cash relief of Rs
10,000 for the homeless and an Rs 200,000 payment for
relatives of the deceased. A total of Rs 500,000 has been
released to rebuild housing, and a metric ton of rice and
30,000 tarpaulin sheets have been released for direct aid.
Storm victims angry about the slow rate of aid distribution
quickly turned to demonstrations and violence. In Karandighi,
hundreds of protesters squatted on the highway, closing it
down for three hours on 15 April. Protests were also held in
Raniganj. On 16 April, "Thousands of villagers staged angry
protests in front of government offices [in Karandighi and
Hemtabad] demanding more relief materials and assaulted
officials when they came to open the offices," according to
West Bengal relief minister Mortaza Hossain. Riot police had
to be dispatched to both Karandighi and Hematabad. In
Hemtabad, angry villagers attacked the block development
building and shut down the Raiganj-Balurghat state highway
for 30 minutes. Raids on several rural offices were reported in
the North Dinajpur district on 16 April. Accusations of
corruption were made in Karandighi and Raiganj, with some
storm victims claiming they received only part of their
promised relief payments.
In Karandighi, anger lead to looting and later violence.
Shortly after 2pm IST on 15 April, a delivery of 500 tarpaulin
sheets arrived. Villagers seeing that the supply would not be
enough for everyone in need decided to take matters into their
own hands. Some protesters jumped a wall, broke into the
godown, and looted the tarpaulins. Police were called in, but
were blocked from entering the facility by protesters. One
looter remarked "What else could I have done? The
government is not helping us so we have to help ourselves."
Just after noon on 16 April, an angry mob attacked Panchayat
Pradhan Badal Singh and began to beat him. One of the
perpetrators said he couldn't control his anger when he saw
that Singh "was distributing the [tarpaulin] sheets only to his
party supporters." Throughout the North Dinajpur district,
panchayat leaders have fled their homes after being attacked
by angry villagers.
On 19 April, protesters blocked National Highway 34 at
Panisala in the Raiganj subdivision. Others surrounding the
panchayat office demanding more relief. The police fired
shots into the air to scare the crowd off the highway after it
was shut down for about an hour. According to one report, the
Socialist Unity Centre of India (Communist) was responsible
for organizing the road block. Later that evening, at 5:30pm
IST, 1,500 people who had been dispersed earlier attacked the
police at Sitgram. Three sub-inspectors were badly beaten and
two police vehicles pushed into a ditch before the crowd was
dispersed with tear gas and shots fired into the air. District
magistrate Ramanuj Chakrabarty claimed that "the
distribution of relief has picked up" and that the attack "was
politically motivated."
In Assam
In Assam, food and building supplies have been distributed to
storm victims. "We have taken all possible measures to
provide relief and other financial assistance to people hit by
the storm," remarked Relief and Rehabilitation minister
Bhumidhar Barman. An ex gratia payment of Rs 5,000 was
announced for the next of kin of storm victims, plus Rs
300,000 to be released at a later date.