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
This looks like a ghost ship, but it's actually the site of a tense international standoff between the Philippines and China.
July 26, 2014 -- Updated 1555 GMT (2355 HKT)
The reported firing of artillery from Russian territory is a sign Vladimir Putin has escalated the Ukraine battle, says CNN's military analyst Rick Francona.
July 27, 2014 -- Updated 0846 GMT (1646 HKT)
The young boy stops, stares, throws ammunition casings at the reporter's feet without a word.
July 27, 2014 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
A picture taken on June 28, 2014 shows a member of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) putting on protective gear at the isolation ward of the Donka Hospital in Conakry, where people infected with the Ebola virus are being treated. The World Health Organization has warned that Ebola could spread beyond hard-hit Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to neighbouring nations, but insisted that travel bans were not the answer.
The worst ebola outbreak in history spreads out of control in West Africa. CNN's Michael Holmes reports.
July 26, 2014 -- Updated 0048 GMT (0848 HKT)
Sure, Fido is a brown Lab. But inside, he may also be a little green.
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 2006 GMT (0406 HKT)
ITN's Dan Rivers reports from the hospital where those injured by an attack in Gaza were being treated.
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 0015 GMT (0815 HKT)
Photograph of an undisclosed location by Patrycja Makowska
Patrycja Makowska likes to give enigmatic names to the extraordinarily beautiful photographs she shoots of crumbling palaces.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 0804 GMT (1604 HKT)
When the Costa Concordia and its salvage convoy finally depart Giglio, the residents will breathe a sigh of relief -- and shed a tear.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1808 GMT (0208 HKT)
Flight attendants are wearing black ribbons to show solidarity with fallen colleagues in "a tribute to those who never made it home."
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT