Phailin's impact: 9 million uprooted, lakhs of homes flattened, 23 dead

14 Oct 2013


Through effective and coordinated effort, India withstood the fury of Cyclone Phailin, signalling better disaster preparedness as a similarly deadly storm had killed 10,000 people 14 years ago.

The authorities now face the daunting task of resettling thousands of people uprooted from their homes and livelihoods.

Accurate weather prediction and timely evacuation helped avert human tragedy, but the cyclone has brought heavy destruction, flattening lakhs of homes in low lying areas, uprooting trees and strewing roads with trees and debris and damaging thousands of telecoms towers.

The cyclone affected nearly 9 million people and destroyed paddy crops worth about Rs2,400 crore, although both Odisha and Andhra Pradesh escaped human catastrophe.

While 23 people have died, all but two of them in Odisha, most of the casualties were caused by wall collapse, uprooting of trees and in floods.

Communication links were disrupted by the strong winds that reached speed of up to 220 kmph and Ganjam district in Odisha bore the brunt of the storm.

Odisha revenue minister S N Patro said 14,514 villages in 12 districts have been affected, hitting a population of 80,53,620.

Over 2.34 lakh houses have been damaged and more than 8.73 lakh people evacuated.

The gushing waters destroyed standing crops in over five lakh hectares, causing an estimated loss of Rs2,400 crore, he said.

The disturbances in electricity transmission due to cyclone Phailin were comparatively manageable and were attended to in time, the state power ministry said.

"Required load and generation were managed in a balanced manner so as to secure stable transmission frequency," it said in a statement.

In Andhra Pradesh, the load was reduced to about 9,000 megawatt (MW) against normal demand of 10,000 MW and in Odisha, it was 600 MW against the normal demand of 2800 MW.

Meanwhile, a Panama-registered cargo ship M V Bingo, with iron ore loaded from Haldia Port, was reported to have sunk in rough seas, but its crew was rescued after a Coast Guard Dornier aircraft spotted them in a lifeboat off the coast of West Bengal.

While Cyclone Phailin has weakened into a cyclonic storm with wind speed between 60 and 70 kmph, defence and paramilitary personnel are now engaged in relief and rehabilitation work and restoring badly hit infrastructure.

Cyclone Phailin, with gusts of 230 kph, uprooted trees, blew away hoardings and overhead water tanks and mangled communication and electricity wires at the start, had fizzled out with friction from land as it moved to the interior areas of the state, bringing with it heavy rainfall in neighbouring areas of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh.

Metreologists have issued a flood alert in Bihar with the Kosi and Gandak rivers flowing over the danger mark.

Train service from Kolkata to Puri were restored on Sunday and state government officials said electricity supply and telecommunications in Orissa will be restored to normal very quickly.

In Andhra Pradesh, striking employees had agreed to resume duty ahead of the cyclone and the damage was less than feared. However, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) had deployed 29 teams in rescue operations in Odisha, 19 teams in Andhra Pradesh and seven in West Bengal.

"Seventy-eight thousand fishermen were not allowed to go to sea, which averted any major casualty. We have given 10 kg rice to each fishermen as compensation," said an NDMA spokesperson. Currently, 1,073 relief camps in Odisha and 135 camps in Andhra Pradesh were operational.

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