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Rediff.com  » News » Cyclone Phailin claims 17 lives; many more in tatters

Cyclone Phailin claims 17 lives; many more in tatters

Last updated on: October 13, 2013 20:48 IST

Cyclone Phailin claims 17 lives; many more in tatters

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Cyclone 'Phailin' on Sunday left a trail of destruction, hitting nearly 90 lakh people, damaging lakhs of houses and laying waste paddy crop worth about Rs 2,400 crore, mainly in coastal Ganjam district, but Odisha and Andhra Pradesh escaped widespread loss of lives.

Ten bodies were recovered from Ganjam district and Balasore districts on Sunday in the aftermath of Cyclone 'Phailin', taking the toll to 17 in Odisha, official sources said.

Two bodies each were found in Berhampur town, Purushottampur, Ganjam town and Rangelilunda areas of Ganjam district where the high-velocity cyclone left a trail of devastation after making landfall in Gopalpur area on Saturday, a senior official said.

The bodies of a woman and a 13-year-old boy were found in Khantapada and Soro areas in Balasore district, police sources said.

Seven people were killed on Saturday at Polasara and Khalikote areas of Ganjam district. Most of the casualties were caused by wall collapse and uprooted trees, while a large number of people were injured.

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Image: A man covers himself with a plastic sheet during heavy rain brought by Cyclone Phailin as he moves towards a safer place at the village Donkuru in Srikakulam district
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters

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Cyclone Phailin claims 17 lives; many more in tatters

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Communication links have been vastly disrupted by the strong winds that went upto a speed of 220 kmph when the very severe cyclonic storm, feared to be the worst in 14 years, crossed the coast near Gopalpur on Saturday night and weakened towards becoming a depression.

Authorities in the state evacuated nearly nine lakh people, the largest in recent history, ahead of the storm to cyclone shelters and public buildings like schools to avoid a repeat of the disastrous 1999 super cyclone that had left 9,885 people dead.

"We are on the whole quite satisfied with the type of evacuation that was done," Vice Chairman of National Disaster Management Authority M Shashidhar Reddy said. In Gopalpur, where the storm struck first, "almost 90-95 per cent people had been evacuated".

Defence and paramilitary personnel were deployed to carry out relief and rehabilitation measures and restoring infrastructure badly affected by the storm.

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Image: A man tries to avoid a broken electricity cable as he rides on an auto rickshaw in Ichapuram town in Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters

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Cyclone Phailin claims 17 lives; many more in tatters

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The IMD said in New Delhi that Phailin has weakened into a cyclonic storm with wind speed between 60 and 70 kmph. It is currently close to Jharsuguda in north Odisha.

Ahead of the storm, there were fears that casualties could be heavy with predictions by US Navy that the storm could reach a speed of 300 kmph but the Indian Meteorological Department on Sunday said it stood vindicated by its forecasts.

The IMD had throughout maintained that the current storm was a "very severe cyclone" which will pack a speed of 200 to 220 kmph and not a super cyclone.

The cyclone weakened on Sunday morning and was moving northwards and will settle into a deep depression by the evening. Under its impact, heavy rains lashed coastal districts of Puri, Balasore, Jagatsinghpur, Cuttack and Sambalpur in inland Odisha, parts of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal.

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Image: People walk among debris from a broken wall after it was damaged by a wave brought by Cyclone Phailin at a fishing harbour in Visakhapatnam
Photographs: R Narendra/Reuters

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Cyclone Phailin claims 17 lives; many more in tatters

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Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said the primary aim was to minimise loss of human lives and they have successfully managed to do so.

"Property to the tune of several crores has been damaged...Rehabilitation will now be done," he said.

Giving details of the devastation caused by the cyclone, 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 have been evacuated.

Over five lakh hectares of standing crops have been destroyed by the gushing waters causing an estimated loss of Rs 2,400 crore, he said.

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Image: Women sit in a school compound after leaving their houses to take shelter from the impact of Cyclone Phailin
Photographs: Ahmad Masood/Reuters

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Cyclone Phailin claims 17 lives; many more in tatters

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Extensive damage has also been caused to 'kutcha' houses besides partial disruption of power, communication lines and rail and road traffic in various parts of Odisha, particularly in Ganjam district, which faced the storm's onslaught.

Thousands of trees and poles were uprooted in Bhubaneshwar and several buildings have got weakened in Parampur town, above 20 kms from Gopalpur, Patro said.

"Now the challenge is before the administration is rehabilitation," he said.

Twelve columns of Army comprising nearly 600 personnel are involved in clearing roads, while officials from the telecom and railway ministries are making all out efforts to restore railway traffic and communication networks.

Officials from the powergrid NTPC and NHPC are helping the state governments in restoring power supply.

There has been no damage to high tension wires and power generation units and the damage has been limited to local power distribution network.

In Odisha, 7,500 telephone towers have been damaged while in Andhra Pradesh the figure stood at 205.

Sources said most of the telephone towers will be restored in the next 48 hours and various telecom operators are sharing their infrastructure to provide mobile network to the subscribers.

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Image: A man sits outside his house as he waits to be evacuated to a safer place at Donkuru village in Srikakulam district
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters

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Cyclone Phailin claims 17 lives; many more in tatters

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While the Bhubaneshwar airport has been reopened, Railways have pressed into service four special trains to carry stranded people from Bhubaneshawar.

Efforts are on to restore the overhead electricity networks of the railways, sources said

A flood warning has been issued in Bihar as widespread rains are expected in its wake.

Srikakulam Collector Saurabh Gaur said 39 villages in the cyclone-affected areas are surrounded by water.

Kolkata Port Trust Chairman RPS Kahlon told PTI that a cargo ship, MV Bingo is believed to have sunk in the rough seas caused by Phailin with its crew on a lifeboat last sighted east of Sagar in West Bengal.

"The Panama-registered cargo ship MV Bingo is feared sunk as the crew was sighted on a lifeboat yesterday east of Sagar, 25km from the coast," he said.


Image: A girl looks out from the window of a bus travelling towards a relief camp in Donkuru village in Srikakulam district
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters

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