Dead Bodies and Their Disposal in Emergencies

S.C. Mohapatra, Meghkanta Mohapatra


The recent floods and landslides in Uttarakhand and the flood of Jammu and Kashmir have been a rude reminder for India of its historical disasters. Jammu and Kashmir is battling one of the worst floods in six decades. The flood situation has worsened as more areas have submerged in the waters leaving a trail of death and destruction. The toll in the devastating floods has reached 160 with more than 3500 villages affected and 450 submerged. Thousands of families are still stranded and awaiting help in their homes across the valley. South Kashmir districts are the worst hit by the catastrophe with many areas still cut off. Over 30 per cent of capital Srinagar city is under flood waters and over 10 lakh population affected in Jammu division. Here are the ten worst natural disasters that have affected millions of lives in the country since the 17th century. The great famine of 1876-78, statistically, was the worst ever disaster in the Indian history. The famine took a toll on millions of lives in south India, affecting at least 5.8 crore people for a period of two years. Covering a total area of 670,000 square km, the famine caused distress to people mainly in south, south western India and later spread to the then central provinces (now Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra states) and also united provinces (now Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand). Historians estimate that at least 3 crore people were killed in the great famine. The world was better connected by the late nineteenth century which saw the disease making its way to India from Hong Kong through Bombay (now Mumbai). The country then saw another natural disaster under the British era as about 1.2 crore succumbed to the plague pandemic over a period of three decades. The state of Bengal was struck by a major catastrophe in the 18th century as a famine caused deaths of about 1 crore people (approximately one-third of the then state's population) in the state. Bengal, a territory under the British East India Company, comprised of modern West Bengal, Bangladesh, and parts of Assam, Orissa, Bihar and Jharkhand. The famine caused distress in the territory between 1769 and 1773. In 1943, a massive famine struck the state of Bengal, India's rice-belt, killing at least 40 lakh people.

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