Cyclone Aila: Forecast Fails to Minimize Loss of Life and Property in India and Bangladesh

by OldSailor on May 30, 2009


Cyclonic storm “Aila” hit India and Bangladesh on May 25.Orissa,West Bengal in India and Bangladesh were affected.Even after five days of the cyclonic storm, rescue work is going on.

Though forecast from India Meteorological Department (IMD) was available from May 22, Indian Newspapers and TV News Channels failed to give regular weather forecast to reach the masses to minimize loss of life and loss of property. India’s Press Information Bureau gave ‘Cyclone warning for West Bengal and North Orissa coasts’ only on May 25, 13:49 IST.

Here is the track of Cyclone Aila available from India Meteorological Department:cyclone_aila_2009

  • May 22, morning: A low pressure area was formed over southeast Bay of Bengal.
  • May 22 evening: It lay over east central & adjoining west central Bay of Bengal.
  • May 23, 1130 IST: It concentrated into a depression and lay centered near Lat. 16.5ºN/Long 88.0ºE about 600 kms south of Sagar Island.
  • May 24, 0830 IST: It moved mainly in a northerly direction and intensified into a deep depression and lay centred  near Lat. 18.0ºN/Long 88.5ºE.
  • May 24, 1730 IST: It further intensified into a cyclonic storm ‘Aila’ and lay centred near Lat. 18.5ºN/Long 88.5ºE.
  • May 25, 1130 IST: It continued to move in northerly direction and intensified into a severe cyclonic storm and lay centred over northwest Bay of Bengal near Lat. 21.5ºN/Long 88.0ºE close to Sagar Island.
  • May 25, 1330 to 1430 hours IST: The system crossed West Bengal coast close to the east of Sagar Island between as a severe cyclonic storm with wind speed of 100 to 110 kmph.
  • May 25, 2030 IST: After the landfall, the system continued to move in a northerly direction, gradually weakened into a cyclonic storm and lay centred over Gangetic West Bengal, close to Kolkata.
  • May 26, 0830 IST: While it continued its northerly movement, it further weakened into a deep depression and lay centred over Sub-Himalayan west Bengal & Sikkim, close to Maldah.
  • May 26, 1130 IST: It weakened into a depression and lay centred over the same region close to Baghdogra.
  • May 26, 1430 IST: It weakened and lay as a well marked low pressure area over Sub-Himalayan West Bengal and neighborhood and became less marked on May 27.

Damages reported are:

  • India
    • Life in several parts of coastal districts of Orissa like Cuttack, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Bhadrak and Balasore was paralysed due to heavy rains and high-velocity wind.
    • West Bengal experienced a severe storm with a wind speed of 110 kmph, accompanied by heavy rainfall.
    • As on May 29, with death toll of 117, hundreds of villages in West Bengal continued to be marooned, with saltwater intrusion destroying crops and rendering vast stretches of land fallow in the Sundarbans area.
  • Bangladesh
    • As on May 28, the death toll reported was 176 and worst hit districts are: Khulna and Satkhira.
    • As on May 29, thousands of marooned people in many cyclone-hit coastal areas are surviving without drinking water,food and medicine.

Read more from

Here are some videos to watch:

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Update: May 31

Indian Air Force helicopters have wound-up rescue and relief operations in West Bengal that began on May 26, from Barrackpore. Two Mi-17 helicopters carried out 36 sorties and 50 hours were flown. In all, a total of 71.64 tonnes of relief material and 25 passengers were airlifted. Read more from Press Information Bureau.

View amazing photographs of rescue mission, from Live Fist. Photos 1, Photos 2.

Update: June 03

West Bengal Government has assessed the damage caused by Cyclone Aila as Rs 1,300 crore. Read more from NDTV.

Meanwhile, at the request of West Bengal government, the Ministry of Defence has dispatched 20 medical teams of Armed Forces personnel to the Aila affected areas of North and South 24 Parganas district of the State. Read more from Press Information Bureau.

View 29 amazing photographs of Cyclone Aila from The Big Picture.

Update: June 09

The West Bengal government has demanded that the devastation caused by Cyclone Aila be declared as a national calamity and sought assistance of Rs 1,000 crore from the Prime Minister. Read more from The Times of India.

View some video clips:

Update: June 15

The Ministry of Water Resources, India has constituted a Task Force, to assess the damage caused by cyclone ‘Aila’ recently to existing infrastructure/embankments in Sunderbans and to suggest remedial measures. Read more from Press Information Bureau.

Update: June 22

Life in Sunderbans has not come to normal, even after three weeks of Cyclone Aila damage. Shortage of drinking water and unhygienic living conditions still prevail.

View a video clip from NDTV: A battle for survival in Sunderbans

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