Colossal tidal waves and storm surges strike the shores of the Ganges Delta, wreaking lethal damage on the people of East Pakistan. A 120-mile-per-hour cyclone spurred deadly tidal waves that washed over scores of coastal islands. An estimated total of 200,000 dead made it the century's largest disaster by water. The Ganges Delta had suffered many furious storms, but this was the worst natural disaster in the region’s history. The failure of the West Pakistani government to respond quickly to the crisis contributed to the political turmoil that produced an independent Bangladesh in 1971.