Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 12.djvu/207

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195
THE GREAT BENGAL CYCLONE OF 1876.

tants. The people had only a few minutes to think of their safety, When the wave rose ten to twenty feet above the land. Two hours later the flood began to subside, but not till noon of the following day could the survivors quit their places of refuge in the trees, etc. As luck would have it, the villages are surrounded by groves of cocoanut and palm trees: those who saved themselves did so by taking to the trees. Some took refuge on the house-tops, but the water entered the houses and rose to the roofs, and carried them off to the sea, together with the people upon them. There was hardly a household on the islands, or on the neighboring coast, but had lost several of its members. All the cattle were lost. Boats were swept away, and as wagons on wheels are unknown in that region, all means of communication failed. Nearly all of the civil and police officials perished. The town of Dowluctor was utterly destroyed. The loss in cattle cannot be estimated. The crops suffered greatly, but it is hoped that enough remains to prevent a famine. The entire flooded region looks like a waste. Still the condition of the survivors just after the catastrophe was better than was to have been expected. The farmers of that region are the most thrifty in Bengal; the provisions are mostly kept buried in the ground; hence, though they were damaged by water, they can still be used for food. Wherever Sir R. Temple went he found the people drying grain in the sun. Until harvest-time, the cocoanuts will be of some assistance. Prior to the calamity, the harvest promised to be very bountiful; as it is, it will be a fair one. About sixty relief-stations were established. The official journal says: "Wherever the storm-wave struck, not a third part of the population, it is believed, survives. The islands have only a fourth of their former inhabitants. The odor of the decaying carcasses is intolerable, and a general outbreak of cholera is hourly expected." From an official communication, it appears that there perished in Chittagong during the storm over 3,000 souls, and between October 31st and December 31st, 4,399 persons died of cholera. Since New-Year's cholera has raged fearfully. In the district of Noakholly there died in October 43,544 persons, and in the following three months 30,263. Indeed, with the exception of the islands of Hattia and Sundney, the deaths from cholera everywhere have exceeded those caused by the inundation. On these two islands the number of deaths in October way 34,708; later it was only 7,139.

Thus, in the course of eighty-seven years, half a million of human beings have lost their lives by cyclones, without counting the mortality from pestilence and famine.—Das Ausland.