East Bengal cyclone of November, 1970: Epidemiological approach to disaster assessment

Alfred Sommer, Wiley H. Mosley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Two medical relief assessments were carried out in the southern coastal region of East Bengal affected by the cyclone and tidal bore of November, 1970. The first, a rapid 18-site survey, documented the adequacy of existing water supplies and absence of significant post-cyclone morbidity or exceptional levels of epidemic diseases. The second, wider in scope, was done 2 months later, between Feb. 10 and March 4, 1971. Seventy-nine unions in the nine most affected thanas were visited, and 2973 families, comprising 1.4% of the area's population, were studied. Age-specific cyclone mortality ranged from highs of 29% and 20% in the 0-4-year and 70 + age-groups, respectively, to a low of 6% in 35-39-year-olds. Females fared worse than males in all but the youngest age-groups. Mean mortality was 16.5%, representing a minimum of 224,000 deaths. More than 180,000 homes were destroyed by the cyclone, and at the time of the survey 600,000 people were still without adequate shelter. Although post-cyclone morbidity, mortality, and nutritional status compared favourably with a control area, 1,000,000 people were still dependent on outside food relief for survival. At least 123,000 draft animals and 127,000 ploughs were needed before the region could begin to regain agricultural self-sufficiency. The surveys prove the value of early on-the-spot assessments in getting an accurate picture of requirements in disaster areas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-20
Number of pages8
JournalEpidemiologic reviews
StatePublished - Jul 8 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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