Cyclone Phailin ravages India's east coast, but damage limited

14 Oct 2013


Cyclone Phailin, which hit India's eastern coast on Saturday night, was remarkably contained despite being the strongest storm the country has faced in 14 years.

The cyclone nonetheless left a trail of destruction along the Bay of Bengal coast, and indirectly caused the death of 13 persons in Odisha and one in Andhra Pradesh.

Phailin cyclone is expected to dissipate by Monday morning, losing momentum as it heads inland.

Authorities in Odisha said people were killed as high winds tore down houses and trees.

Meanwhile, the smaller Typhoon Nari was approaching Vietnam and Typhoon Wipha loomed over the Pacific, according to meteorological reports.

At least 873,000 people in Odisha and adjacent Andhra Pradesh spent the night in shelters, some of which had been built after a 1999 storm killed 10,000 in the same area. Others sought safety in schools or temples.

"We saved lives by putting them in shelters in time," said Odisha's special relief commissioner J K Mohapatra.

The 18 fishermen who put out to sea despite a storm warning and got stuck in the ocean have returned safely.

Further northeast, port officials said they feared a Panama-registered cargo ship, the MV Bingo, carrying 8,000 tonnes of iron ore with a crew of 17 Chinese and an Indonesian, had sunk on Saturday as the storm churned across the Bay of Bengal.

"The crew left the ship in a lifeboat around 4 p.m. on Saturday but have not been traced yet," I. Jeyakumar, deputy chairman of the Kolkata Port Trust, said. But he added that they were probably alive.

Television images showed cars flipped on their sides and streets strewn with debris in the silk-producing city of Brahmapur, one of the worst-hit areas.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is monitoring rescue and rehabilitation work. Eight Army columns in Odisha and four in Andhra Pradesh are helping with restarting road connectivity.

Power suppliers are working with the state government to restore electricity as soon as possible in the affected districts, as the railway and airlines also work overtime to restore services.

Major ports and oil installations in the affected area are relatively undamaged; and insurance companies do not fear much loss from damage-related claims.

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