Massive Cyclone Hits India

A massive cyclone hit India Saturday evening, India time (11:30 am EST).

Hundreds of thousands of people evacuated their homes to move inland to shelters. They moved in hopes of riding out the storm, By mid-afternoon India time, wind gusts were so strong they could blow over grown men. Sea waters pushed inland swamping villages where many people survive as subsistence farmers.

Massive wind gusts are expected to last until noon Sunday. The Indian government said some 12 million people would be affected by the storm, including millions living far from the coast. There are conflicting reports about the death toll so far.

With winds of 140 mph, the cyclone equates to a Category 4 hurricane. To compare it to killer U.S. storms, This cyclone is nearly the size of Hurricane Katrina, which killed 1,200 people in 2005 and caused devastating flooding in New Orleans. It has the wind power of 1992’s Hurricane Andrew, which packed 165 mph winds at landfall in Miami.

Disaster relief efforts are already taking place. Government officials and volunteers are already putting together hundreds of thousands of packages of food for relief camps. People are being housed in nearly 250 emergency shelters such as schools and government offices.

Our hearts go out to the victims of the massive cyclone that just hit India hours ago. The Red Cross will be mobilizing disaster efforts. Anything you can do to help us respond will be greatly appreciated.

Through your support of the Red Cross mission, more than 155 million people were helped in 2012 through disaster response, community based programs, or measles vaccination campaigns.

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