Man Missing After 1999 Odisha Super Cyclone Reunited With Family

by Dikhyaa Mohanty

The Baral family from Puri, Odisha, will undoubtedly concur that miracles do happen. An elderly man who was believed to have died in the super cyclone that struck the coast of Odisha 23 years ago has been reunited with his family. After the cyclone in Odisha that claimed over 10,000 lives, Kritichandra Baral traveled to Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh. He was occupying a section of a pavement in the port city and had forgotten who he was.

A.J. Stalin, a Greater Visakhapatnam corporator at the time, felt sorry for the man and dropped over to give him food each day. The guy would approach Stalin’s car when it stopped, take the food package, and then make his way back to his pavement corner. This continued for a while. One day, the corporator honked and stopped his car as usual, but the man never showed up. Stalin exited and located the man after looking around. He was sick and immobile. It happened in 2012.

Stalin then got in touch with the Missionaries of Charity (MOC) and requested them to take care of the man. After necessary police clearance, the MOC took charge and Baral’s health condition improved. Despite all efforts, his memory could not be revived though.

The man would at times utter the word Srikakulam, the name of a city and district in Andhra Pradesh, though. As Baral got stronger, the MOC shifted him to a centre near Srikakulam. He would accompany the missionaries when they went out to the villages. The MOC had hoped that somebody would recognize him there but this did not happen.

“A couple of days ago, I received a call from the MOC. In the past, we had helped the organisation in tracing the families of some people they were taking care of. They now wanted us to try and locate this man’s family. We didn’t even know his name then. After an extensive search by tapping into our network, we finally located the Baral family in Patigram, Bamanala, Puri.

“Baral has three sons. One of them has lost his eyesight. The two others were dumbstruck when they saw their father’s photograph and then started weeping. They are a well-to-do family and said how their father went missing after the cyclone and was presumed dead,” said Ambarish Nag Biswas, secretary, West Bengal Radio Club (WBRC), an organisation of amateur radio operators.

It is believed that Baral had a traumatic experience during the cyclone and lost his memory. He somehow travelled to Srikakulam and still remembers the name. From there, he landed up in Visakhapatnam as a vagrant.

According to Nag Biswas, Baral’s sons have reached the MOC centre at Brahmapur, Odisha, where he has now been shifted, to take him back home after necessary formalities.


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