The World Meteorological Organisation has officially recognised the 1970 cyclone that killed 300,000 people in the southern region of East Pakistan — now Bangladesh — as the deadliest weather event ever.
The horrific death toll in the cyclone was mostly due to a large storm surge that overwhelmed the delta and tidal flats along the shores of the Bay of Bengal, based on a report
prepared by the UN body.
“In today’s world, it seems like the latest weather disaster is the worst,” USA Today
quoted geographer Randy Cerveny
of Arizona State University, who led the committee that made the determinations, as saying.
“I have often heard since 2005 that Hurricane Katrina was the deadliest tropical cyclone or hurricane to have ever occurred."
But Katrina killed more than 2,000 people and "pales in comparison" to the 1970 cyclone in Bangladesh, he said.
Bangladesh has endured four cyclones that killed 100,000 or more people, according to the Bangladesh Meteorological Department.
By comparison, the US's deadliest hurricane slammed into Galveston, Texas, in 1900, killing 8,000 people.
The world's deadliest tornado on record also struck Bangladesh, according to the WMO report. The twister, which carved a path a mile wide and 10 miles long, hit the nation's Manikganj district on April 29, 1989, killing about 1,300 people. More than 12,000 people were injured and 80,000 left homeless.
Two separate events were listed in the lightning category – the deadliest "indirect" lightning strike occurred in Dronka, Egypt, on November 2, 1994, when a bolt hit fuel storage tanks, igniting a massive fire that killed 469 people.
The highest death toll from a single lightning strike came from a bolt that killed 21 people in a hut in Manica Tribal Trust Lands in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) on December 23, 1975.
The deadliest hailstorm occurred April 30, 1888, near Moradabad, India, when as many as 246 people were killed by hailstones as large as goose eggs, oranges and cricket balls.
The report did not list the deadliest heat wave, cold snap, drought or flood, but the agency said it hopes to make those determinations in the future. The full report
appeared in the journal Weather, Climate and Society, a publication of the American Meteorological Society