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Meteorologists name world’s deadliest cyclones, tornadoes and hailstorms

The findings were published in the run-up to two major conferences on improving multi-hazard early warning systems

MOSCOW, May 26. /TASS/. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has announced "world records" for the highest reported historical death tolls from tropical cyclones, tornadoes, lightning and hailstorms in a report, published on its website.

According to the report, the deadliest tropical cyclone, sometimes referred to as the ‘Great Bhola Cyclone,’ occurred in Bangladesh (at time of incident, East Pakistan) on November 12-13, 1970. An estimated 300,000-500,000 people were killed directly, mostly as the result of a large storm surge overwhelming the islands and tidal flats along the shores of the Bay of Bengal.

The deadliest tornado was the one that stroke the Manikganj district of Bangladesh on April 26, 1989, killing an estimated 1,300 people. This violent storm left a track of about a mile wide.

The highest death toll from an indirect strike of a lightning - 469 people - occurred in Egypt’s Dronka on November 2, 1994. A bolt hit and set on fire three fuel storage tanks, each containing about 5,000 tonnes of aviation or diesel fuel. These tanks were located on a railway line that subsequently collapsed as floodwaters built up behind it. The fuel caught fire from the lightning strike and the floodwaters swept the blazing fuel into the village.

The highest mortality directly associated with a single lightning flash was recorded in Zimbabwe (at the time of incident, Rhodesia) on December 23, 1975. On that day, a single stroke of lightning in a hut in Manica Tribal Trust Lands killed 21 people.

The deadliest hailstorm killed 246 people with hailstones as large as "goose eggs and oranges and cricket balls" near Moradabad, India, on April 30, 1888.

The report did not mention other extreme weather conditions, such as heat-and cold-waves, droughts and floods. However, a panel of experts may evaluate those events in future.

The findings were published in the run-up to two major conferences on improving multi-hazard early warning systems and strengthening disaster risk reduction, taking place in Cancun, Mexico from 22 to 26 May and organized by WMO and the UN Office on Disaster Risk Reduction.

"Extreme weather causes serious destruction and major loss of life. That is one of the reasons behind the WMO’s efforts to improve early warnings of multiple hazards and impact-based forecasting, and to learn lessons gleaned from historical disasters to prevent future ones," WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas was quoted as saying in the report. "The human aspect inherent in extreme events should never be lost."