A 1970 tropical cyclone that killed 300,000 people in East Pakistan — now Bangladesh — has officially been declared the world's all-time deadliest weather event, the World Meteorological Organization announced Thursday.
The United Nations agency announced its "world records" for the highest reported death tolls from cyclones, tornado, lightning strike and hailstorm that have occurred since the organization's inception in 1873.
The horrific death toll in the 1970 tropical cyclone — the same type of storm as a hurricane — was mostly due to a large storm surge that overwhelmed the islands and tidal flats along the shores of the Bay of Bengal. The disaster had vast political consequences: The Pakistani government's poor response to the cyclone helped Bengali nationalists take power in the 1970 elections and fanned the flames of the bitter civil war that created Bangladesh.
The WMO also named as the most deadly tornado a destructive vortex that hit the Manikganj district of Bangladesh on April 26, 1989. More than 1,300 people died as a result of the mile-wide tornado, and 80,000 people became homeless.
The WMO announced its findings ahead of a conference on disaster risk reduction. The report did not list the deadliest heat wave, cold snap, drought or flood, but the agency said it hopes to make those determinations in the future. The organization features information about other record weather events, on its website.>