Bhola Cyclone (1970)

On 12 November 1970 the south coast of Bangladesh was flooded by the most deadliest and devastating cyclonic storm in the history of Bangladesh. Winds traveling at 115mph completely destroyed thirteen islands around Chotrogram and wiped out 45% of Barisal's population. Over half a million people died in this rural region - though the exact figures are estimated to be higher than this.

The Bhola Cyclone followed from deteriorating political situation between the two wings of Pakistan - the affluent West Pakistan ('Poschim Pakistan' in Bangla) and the poverty-stricken East Pakistan ('Purbo Pakistan'). And then the waters came. East Pakistan had severe monsoon flooding throughout the summer of 1970. The elections were postponed from October to December. In November Bhola hit. The entire political atmosphere changed dramatically.

It was one of the key grievances behind the breakup of Pakistan and the creation of a new independent nation - Bangladesh.

History

1969

  1. From Ayub Khan military dictatorship to Yahya Khan regime
  2. Sheikh Mujib renames East Pakistan to 'Bangla Desh'

1970

  1. Legal Framework Order (LFO)
  2. Monsoon flooding postpones election dates, cyclone frequency increases pre-Bhola
  3. Great Bhola Cyclone
  4. Over half a million people die
  5. Indifferent government response
  6. Maulana Bhashani declares independence, Sheikh Mujib's autonomy stance intensifies
  7. International aid

Aftermath

  1. Aftermath I: Event triggers civil war, cyclone shelters - COMING SOON
  2. Aftermath II: Concert for Bangladesh

Timeline of major events during Bhola Cyclone of 1970:

  • 30 March - Legal Framework Order (LFO) issued
  • 2 August - East Pakistan hit by monsoon floodings, killing at least 100 people
  • 8 August - General Election rescheduled from 5 October to 7 December 1970
  • 2 November - Ramadhan (Muslim month of fasting) begins
  • 8 November - Major cyclone forms over Bay of Bengal
  • 12 November - Cyclone approaches coastal areas and hits the chars at night causing devastation
  • 14 November - President Yahya arrives after state visit to China and flies over disaster areas
  • 19 November - Pakistan army helicopter drops first rice supplies in affected areas, a week after disaster
  • 21 November - National mourning day, flag flown at half-mast
  • 24 November - Government allocates £80 million for relief work. President Yahya arrives in Dhaka to take charge
  • 4 December - President Yahya made a formal mention to the distress of flood victims in an address to the nation
  • 7 December - Awami League win General Election partly due to anger over Bhola Cyclone
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