Skip to main content

Cyclone Phailin: India relieved at low death toll

By Mallika Kapur and David Simpson, CNN
October 14, 2013 -- Updated 1422 GMT (2222 HKT)
A woman walks near overturned boats in Pudumpeta, India, on Monday, October 14. Debris littered the streets and gaping holes were left in buildings after Tropical Cyclone Phailin pounded the eastern coast of India. Massive evacuation efforts helped limit the number of casualties. A woman walks near overturned boats in Pudumpeta, India, on Monday, October 14. Debris littered the streets and gaping holes were left in buildings after Tropical Cyclone Phailin pounded the eastern coast of India. Massive evacuation efforts helped limit the number of casualties.
HIDE CAPTION
Cyclone Phailin slams India's coast
Cyclone Phailin slams India's coast
Cyclone Phailin slams India's coast
Cyclone Phailin slams India's coast
Cyclone Phailin slams India's coast
Cyclone Phailin slams India's coast
Cyclone Phailin slams India's coast
Cyclone Phailin slams India's coast
Cyclone Phailin slams India's coast
Cyclone Phailin slams India's coast
Cyclone Phailin slams India's coast
Cyclone Phailin slams India's coast
Cyclone Phailin slams India's coast
Cyclone Phailin menaces India's coast
Cyclone Phailin menaces India's coast
Cyclone Phailin menaces India's coast
Cyclone Phailin menaces India's coast
Cyclone Phailin menaces India's coast
Cyclone Phailin menaces India's coast
Cyclone Phailin menaces India's coast
Cyclone Phailin menaces India's coast
Cyclone Phailin menaces India's coast
Cyclone Phailin menaces India's coast
Cyclone Phailin menaces India's coast
Cyclone Phailin menaces India's coast
Cyclone Phailin menaces India's coast
Cyclone Phailin menaces India's coast
Cyclone Phailin menaces India's coast
Cyclone Phailin menaces India's coast
Cyclone Phailin menaces India's coast
Cyclone Phailin menaces India's coast
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: At least 21 deaths recorded so far from Phailin impact
  • Odisha residents feared repeat of 1999 when 10,000 died
  • Evacuation of 900,000 credited with saving lives
  • Some coastal residents say they're still waiting for help

Odisha State, India (CNN) -- The last time a storm as powerful as Cyclone Phailin struck the eastern coast of India, 10,000 people died.

So the sense of relief is strong in the state of Odisha, where Phailin made landfall this weekend.

"I felt like I was going to die, everyone was so tense," said Raju Pradhan, who lives with his family in Odisha.

At least 21 were killed as a direct result of the cyclone, according to Pradipta Kumar Mohapatra, Odisha state special relief commissioner. Every death is tragic, but considering Phailin was the strongest tropical storm to hit India in more than a decade, the toll could have been much higher.

iReport: Cyclone leaves Indian slums in ruins

Greater preparation for cyclone
India surveys damage from Cyclone Phailin
Cyclone slams India's east coast
Powerful cyclone makes landfall in India

Pradhan was among 900,000 Odisha residents evacuated to shelters in schools and government offices. Authorities also moved food and medicine close to affected areas before the storm.

Those preparations now are credited with the huge reduction in casualties from 1999's Cyclone Orissa, which killed 10,000 and caused more than $2 billion in damage.

That cyclone, the strongest ever recorded in Bay of Bengal, carried winds of 155 mph at landfall. Phailin arrived with winds of 140 mph.

By Monday evening, almost everyone who had been in shelters because of Phailin had gone home, with the few who are left expected to return home by Tuesday morning, Mohapatra said.

Assessing damage

Phailin flooded highways and knocked down trees and power lines. Authorities said it could take up to a week to restore electric service. Flooded roads and rail lines could take longer to repair.

Major crop damage also was expected, and some evacuees may have lost homes made of mud and bamboo.

Aid had not reached all areas. When a CNN crew arrived Sunday in a coastal village in Ganjam District, residents ran outside to complain.

The village was running out of food and water, the residents said. And they said they expected more flooding as rainfall from the storm drained toward them.

Cyclone leaves trail of destruction

Panic buying

About 40 miles inland in the state capital of Bhubaneswar, resident Prabir Panda said he and others were alarmed into buying food, candles and buckets by news reports comparing Phailin to Orissa and the Hurricane Katrina in the United States.

And he said he worried when a tree in his garden was blown down and others swung crazily in the wind.

But afterward, people in Bhubaneswar emerged to check out the damage and share their relief, he said.

Property damage in the city was limited to trees and small shops, he said.

Panda praised the evacuations of people from low-lying places, which he said ran against "a cultural feeling that we normally don't move out of our houses whatever the cause."

"This time, the government ensured people are forced to move out," he said.

He said government disaster management teams and military forces had been on the job in his city for two days.

"Everyone is happy with the way the local state government has managed it this time," Panda said.

CNN's Mallika Kapur reported from the Indian state of Odisha, and David Simpson wrote from Atlanta. CNN's Radina Gigova contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 1225 GMT (2025 HKT)
Action needs to be taken immediately before affected states potentially collapse, says campaigner Bob Geldof.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 0102 GMT (0902 HKT)
A 15-year-old pregnant girl is rescued from slavery, only to be charged with having sex outside of marriage, shocked rights activists say -- a charge potentially punishable by death.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1607 GMT (0007 HKT)
Airports judged on comfort, conveniences, cleanliness and customer service.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1319 GMT (2119 HKT)
With so many new attractions on the way, the next few years are going to be a roller coaster ride.
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 0429 GMT (1229 HKT)
Thomas Malthus famously predicted that rising populations would create a food crunch: Could this be true?
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 1033 GMT (1833 HKT)
From "Sick Man of Europe" to the world's fourth largest economy.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1218 GMT (2018 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
October 15, 2014 -- Updated 2327 GMT (0727 HKT)
Serbia and Albania try to play but the major game is called off after a drone flying a political flag enters the stadium.
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 1136 GMT (1936 HKT)
George Clooney's new wife, is now Amal Clooney, raising the issue of married names.
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 1757 GMT (0157 HKT)
The mysterious unmanned X-37B space plane returns to Earth after more than two years in space. But the U.S. Air force isn't saying much.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT