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From flyover collapse, train derailment to fire breakout — Disasters that struck India in 2016

From the massive temple fire Kerala that claimed hundreds of lives to flyover collapse in West Bengal, 2016 came as a devastating year for a lot of people around the nation.


From flyover collapse, train derailment to fire breakout — Disasters that struck India in 2016

New Delhi: From the massive temple fire Kerala that claimed hundreds of lives to flyover collapse in West Bengal, 2016 came as a devastating year for a lot of people around the nation.

While in some cases, the tragedies claimed lives of several innocents, in others, they left millions of people homeless.

As the year comes to a close, we take a look at some of the major disasters that struck the nation in 2016:

Puttingal temple fire

On the night of 10 April, Kerala's famous Puttingal temple experienced an explosion and fire after firework celebrations went awry. At least 111 people lost their lives in the massive fire; more than 350 were injured with some left with severe burn injuries.

The massive temple fire was caused by sparks from a firecracker being used in a competitive fireworks display igniting fireworks in a concrete storehouse.

As per the record, the temple did not have permission from the state government authorities to conduct a competitive fireworks display. About 15,000 pilgrims had visited the temple on the tragedy night to mark local Hindu celebrations during the last day of a seven-day festival of the goddess Bhadrakali.

Kolkata flyover collapse

Part of an under-construction flyover in Kolkata collapsed leaving at least 27 people dead and more than 80 injured in the incident.

The construction, that began a year late in 2009 for the 2.2-kilometre Vivekananda flyover, was scheduled to be completed in 2010 but overshot the deadline multiple times.

The company was given an 18-month deadline by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to complete the flyover by February 2016 but only about 60 percent of the work was completed till March 2016, a month after the scheduled day of the of the completion.

While 27 people were declared dead by the state government, more than 90 people were taken out from the rubble by the National Disaster Response Force. Over 100 people were still unaccounted for, claim another media report.

Siachen Glacier avalanche

Ten soldiers were buried under snow after their camp in the northern part of the Siachen glacier was hit by a major avalanche in February this year.

The soldiers belonging to the Madras Regiment had little chance to protect themselves as tonnes of snow covered them in no time, making it even tough for the rescuers to even retrieve their bodies despite the best efforts of both men and machine combined.

One Lance Naik Hanumanthappa Koppad, survived the massive avalanche and was found during post-disaster avalanche rescue operations by the Indian Army, six days after the disaster. He was rescued from 35 feet beneath the snow in -45 °C temperatures, six days after the avalanche hit the Indian Army post in Siachen. His survival news gave family members a chance to celebrate. However, his family's and the country's celebration was short-lived as he eventually died at the military Hospital in New Delhi due to multiple organ failure on February 11.

Since 1984, an estimated 8,000 troops have died on the glacier, almost all of them from avalanches, landslides, frostbite, altitude sickness or heart failure rather than combat, according to a report.

Uttarakhand forest fires

In 2016, forest fires were noted in numerous places across the Indian state of Uttarakhand. These fires, set mainly in pine forests in the slopes of the sub-Himalayan region, produced clouds of smoke. Widespread comments in the Indian news media led to the government taking action, deploying the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) as well as using Indian Air Force Mi-17 helicopters fitted with 'Bambi buckets' to douse the fires with water.

The forest department estimated that 3,500 hectares (8,600 acres) of forest were burnt in the forest fires. However, the heavy smog that developed in the area affected the aerial operations of the army. Finally, the rains on 3 May helped to reduce the impact of the fires.

Bihar hooch tragedy

Months after the Bihar government imposed a total ban on liquor, a hooch tragedy killed at least 16 people in Gopalganj town in August this year. Relatives of the victims – mostly vegetable vendors and daily wage workers – confirmed death because of drinking liquor. 

The victims, after consuming spurious liquor, complaint of nausea and stomach ache, after which they were rushed to a government hospital.

The administration constituted a three-member committee to probe the deaths and suspended 25 policemen including the station house officer (SHO) for dereliction of their duties in strictly enforcing liquor ban.

Soon after the incident, local police dug many parts of Khajur Vani locality and recovered about 1000 liters of illegal country-made liquor which was hidden underground.

Pukhrayan train derailment

On November 20th this year, India witnessed one of the deadliest train accidents in the country, after the 1999 Gaisal train disaster that claimed 290 lives. The Indore–Rajendra Nagar Express 19321 derailed near Pukhrayan, Kanpur resulting in at least 150 deaths.

The accident also left more than 150 people with multiple injuries.

On the midnight of November 20, fourteen carriages of the train were derailed in the town of Pukhrayan near the city of Kanpur. Although the cause of the derailment remains unclear, it was suspected that the mishap was caused by rail fracture.

According to officials, most of the casualties were from two severely damaged coaches namely S1 and S2 of sleeper class, and heavy machinery was being used to rescue passengers trapped in the train.

Cyclone Vardah 

Just when the year 2016 was to close its term, severe Cyclonic Storm Vardah struck Andaman and Nicobar Islands as well as South India bring heavy rainfall and massive destruction. As a result of cyclone Vardah, more than 1,400 tourists were evacuated from Andaman and Nicobar islands whereas over 16,000 people were evacuated from low-lying areas of Tamil Nadu.

Two warships, INS Shivalik and INS Kadmatt, sailed out of Visakhapatnam to Chennai carrying medical teams, divers, inflatable rubber boats, an integral helicopter and material including food, tents, clothes, medicines and blankets to aid with relief efforts. Fifteen teams of the National Disaster Response Force were deployed in various coastal regions.

Vardah was the fourth cyclonic storm of the annual cyclone season. 

More than 260 trees and 37 electric poles were uprooted by the storm. As many as 224 roads were blocked and 24 huts were also damaged. Four people were reported to be killed due to events related to the storm. Schools and colleges in Chennai and Kanchipuram were closed on December 12 and 13 due to the cyclone.

From Zee News

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