Friday, March 13, 2020

1964 Storm Essays

1964 Storm Essays 1964 Storm Essay 1964 Storm Essay Dhanushkodi has the only land border between India and Sri Lanka which is one of the smallest in the world just 50 yards in length on a sand dune in Palk Strait. Before the 1964 cyclone, Dhanushkodi was a flourishing tourist and pilgrimage town. Since Ceylon now Sri Lanka is just 18 miles away, there were many weekly ferry services between Dhanushkodi and Thalaimannar of Ceylon, transporting travellers and goods across the sea. There were hotels, textile shops and dharmashalas catering to these pilgrims and travellers. The Railway line to Dhanushkodi–which did not touch Rameshwaram then and destroyed in the 1964 cyclone-went directly from Mandapam to Dhanushkodi. Dhanushkodi in those days boasted of a railway station, a small railway hospital, a post office and some state government departments like fisheries etc. It was here in this island in January 1897, Swami Vivekananda after his triumphant visit to the west to attend parliament of religions held in USA in September 1893, set his foot on Indian soil from Columbo. Before the storm, there was a train service up to Dhanushkodi called Boat Mail from Madras Egmore Now Chennai Egmore and the train linked to a steamer for ferrying travellers to Ceylon. During the 1964 storm a huge wave of about 20Â  ft came crashing on the town from Palk Bay/Strait east of the town and destroyed the whole town, a passenger train, and the Pamban Rail Bridge -tragically all happening at the dead of the night. The storm was unique in many ways. It all started with a formation of a depression with its centre at 5N 93E in South Andaman Sea on 17 December 1964. On 19 December it intensified into a cyclonic storm. The formation of depression at such low latitudes as 5N is rare in Indian seas though such cases of typhoon development within 5 degrees of Equator has been reported in North Western Pacific. The Rameshwaram storm was not only formed at such low latitude but also intensified into a severe cyclonic storm at about the same latitude is indeed a rare occurrence. After 21 December 1964, its movement was westwards, almost in a straight line, at the rate of 250 to 350 miles per day. On 22 December it crossed Vavunia of Ceylon now called Sri Lanka with a wind velocity of 150 kts around 270 Km/hr, moved into Palk Strait in the night and crashed into Dhanushkodi of Rameshwaram island on the night of 22–23 December 1964. It was estimated that tidal waves were 8 yards high when it crossed Rameshwaram. A scientific study of the storm entitled Satellite Study of Rameshwaram Storm by Shashi M Kulshreshta and Madan G Gupta is given at this link external link On that fateful night December 22 at 23. 55 hours while entering Dhanushkodi railway station, the train No. 653, Pamban-Dhanushkodi Passenger, a daily regular service which left Pamban with 110 passengers and 5 railway staff, was only few yards before Dhanushkodi Railway station when it was hit by a massive tidal wave. The whole train was washed away killing all 115 on the spot. All together over 1800 people died in the cyclonic storm. All dwelling houses and other structures in Dhanushkodi were marooned in the storm . The high tidal waves moved almost 10 kilometres onto this island and ruined the entire town. Pamban bridge was washed away by the high tidal waves in this disaster. Eyewitness accounts recollected of how the surging waters stopped just short of the main temple at Rameshwaram where hundreds of people had taken refuge from the fury of the storm. Following this disaster, the Government of Madras declared the town as Ghost town and unfit for living after the storm. Only few fisherfolks now live there. Memorial for Dhanushkodi Victims A memorial erected near the Dhanushkodi bus stand reads as follows: A cyclone storm with high velocity winds and high tidal waves hit Dhanushkodi town from 22 December 1964 midnight to 25 December 1964 evening causing heavy damages and destroying the entire town of Dhanushkodi.

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