Operation Burlap - the 1970 Bhola cyclone was a devastating tropical cyclone that struck East Pakistan (later to become The Peoples Republic of Bangladesh) and the State of West Bengal, India on 12 November 1970.
Operation Burlap - the 1970 Bhola cyclone was a devastating tropical cyclone that struck East Pakistan (later to become The Peoples Republic of Bangladesh) and the State of West Bengal, India on 12 November 1970. It was the deadliest tropical cyclone ever recorded, and one of the deadliest natural disasters in modern times. Up to 500,000 people lost their lives in the storm, primarily as a result of the storm surge that flooded much of the low-lying islands of the Ganges Delta. This cyclone was the sixth cyclonic storm of the 1970 North Indian Ocean cyclone season, and also the season's strongest, reaching a strength equivalent to a Category 3 hurricane.
The cyclone formed over the central Bay of Bengal on 8 November and travelled north, intensifying as it did so. It reached its peak with winds of 185 km/h (115 mph) on 12 November and made landfall on the coast of East Pakistan that night. The storm surge devastated many of the offshore islands, wiping out villages and destroying crops throughout the region. In the most severely affected Thana, Tazumuddin, over 45% of the population of 167,000 was killed by the storm.
The exact full death toll will never be known, but it is estimated that between 300,000 and 500,000 people lost their lives.
International aid was dispatched from many countries including ships of the Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary Service.
The following ships of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary were deployed to the region in support of Royal Navy assisting in disaster relief: -
RFA Olwen (2)
RFA Resource (2)
RFA Sir Galahad