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
September 17, 2014 -- Updated 1239 GMT (2039 HKT)
Sean Connery says "yes," whilst David Beckham says "no." See what the famous are saying about Scotland's referendum.
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 0251 GMT (1051 HKT)
On September 18, Scots go to the polls to vote on the future of their country. Here's what you should know.
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 0301 GMT (1101 HKT)
This is "Flames of War," a slick and ominous new video from the ISIS media center.
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1903 GMT (0303 HKT)
For years, Morten Storm moved between two worlds. A radical Islamist turned double agent is lifting the lid on some of the world's best-kept secrets.
September 17, 2014 -- Updated 0038 GMT (0838 HKT)
A man abducted alongside killed U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff tells CNN that no one from the U.S. government has tried to talk with him.
September 17, 2014 -- Updated 1508 GMT (2308 HKT)
Mulatu Astatke is the founding father of ethio-jazz: a fusion of Ethiopian music with western jazz.
September 17, 2014 -- Updated 1311 GMT (2111 HKT)
Have you been to these? The global museum list, released Tuesday, ranks 25 of the world's best museums.
September 17, 2014 -- Updated 1703 GMT (0103 HKT)
iOS 8, the latest version of Apple's mobile operating system, comes with new features that you'll enjoy.
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1253 GMT (2053 HKT)
The Ebola virus, very deadly and currently without a cure, is fast-spreading throughout the small West African country.
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 0142 GMT (0942 HKT)
It's a surfer's paradise -- but Diah Rahayu is out on her own when it comes to professional women's wave-riding in Bali.
September 17, 2014 -- Updated 1004 GMT (1804 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT