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Cyclone Phailin leaves trail of destruction

Cyclone Phailin leaves trail of destruction

Cyclone Phailin leaves trail of destruction

“There are 13 deaths in Orissa and one death reported in Andhra Pradesh and so we have been able to… (keep) the death toll to a bare minimum,” vice-chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority Marri Shashidhar Reddy told reporters.

Indian disaster teams have begun a relief operation after Cyclone Phailin crashed into eastern areas, forcing up to one million people to flee.

Officials are assessing the damage and providing food to hundreds of thousands who spent the night in shelters.

The cyclone wrecked many coastal homes, uprooted trees and blocked roads in Andhra Pradesh and Orissa states.

Cyclone Phailin left a trail of destruction along east coast on Sunday. Most of the local population spent the night huddled in shelters and public buildings as deafening winds flattened flimsy homes, uprooted trees and sent glass and asbestos strips flying through the air. The worst affected area around the town of Gopalpur in Orissa, where the eye of Phailin packing winds of 200 kilometres an hour (125 miles per hour) came ashore, remained cut off with emergency services rushing to reach there.

More than 8,000 people were killed in 1999 when a cyclone hit the same region, devastating crops and livestock from which the area took years to recover. This time round, a massive evacuation operation, which officials said was the biggest in Indian history, appeared to have succeeded in minimising casualties.

Officials in Orissa said 860,000 people moved before the cyclone made landfall on Saturday evening, while at least another 100,000 were evacuated further south in the state of Andhra Pradesh. Residents were also evacuated from coastal regions of West Bengal state.

An estimated 5,000 sq km of mostly paddy crops have been destroyed, causing a loss of some $320m. The coast guard said it had rescued 18 fishermen who were stranded at sea, as well as 18 crew from a cargo ship carrying iron ore that reportedly sank during the storm.

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