1839 Coringa Cyclone
Until 1839, Coringa was a bustling port city on the Bay of Bengal near the mouth of the Godavari river in India’s east coast, with a population numbering in the hundreds of thousands, and a harbor that hosted thousands of ships annually, busily loading and unloading goods and produce. Today, Coringa is a tiny village near the coast, of no distinction or note, and a population of no more than a few thousand. The drastic decline was caused by a pair of devastating cyclones, one in 1789, and an even more destructive one fifty years later, in 1839.
After centuries of prosperity, Coringa’s fortunes took a hit in 1789, when a storm that came to be called The Great Coringa Cyclone developed in December of that year, fairly late in the cyclone season by Bay of Bengal standards. It produced severe storm-tide conditions, and witnesses described a succession of three giant waves striking Coringa, with the first storm tide driving ashore all the ships in Anchorage, while the second and third waves, even bigger than the first, flowed inland to inundate with saltwater the fertile fields of the Godavari river’s delta. The city of Coringa was almost completely destroyed, and around 20,000 people were killed.
Akin to those who named the 1914 – 1918 global war “The Great War“, little knowing that an even greater one would soon follow, those who named the 1789 storm the “Great Coringa Cyclone” did not suspect that an even bigger and far more devastating cyclone would strike Coringa within a lifetime. Fifty years later, by 1839, Coringa had recovered from the 1789 disaster and rebuilt, and was more prosperous, populous, and bustling than it had ever been.
Then, on November 25, 1839, again unusually late in the Bay of Bengal’s cyclone season, a monstrous cyclone struck Coringa and brought with it a 40-foot storm surge. The extensive damage of the earlier 1789 cyclone paled in comparison to this one, which wholly destroyed the city of Coringa, wrecked all ships in the harbor and carried their wreckage miles inland, and killed over 300,000 people.
This time the damage was so extensive that the few survivors made no effort to rebuild. Most upped stakes and scattered to pursue their lives elsewhere, putting distance between themselves and what was thought to be a cursed city. The few who remained, some of whom were old enough to have experienced both devastating cyclones during their lifetimes, abandoned the coast altogether and rebuilt their community miles inland.