Walloped By Cyclone, India Dodges Bullet

Mass evacuations translate to very low death toll in massive storm
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 13, 2013 1:18 PM CDT
Walloped By Cyclone, India Dodges Bullet
An Indian man salvages a table stuck in uprooted trees fallen during Cyclone Phailin on a road in Berhampur, India, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2013. An immense, powerful cyclone that lashed the Indian coast, forcing 500,000 people to evacuate and causing widespread damage, weakened Sunday after making landfall....   (Bikas Das)

(Newser) – Cyclone Phailin plowed into India yesterday as the strongest storm in some 14 years, destroying millions of dollars in infrastructure, crops, and homes, but the nation escaped a heavy human toll thanks to aggressive evacuations that affected close to 1 million people, reports Reuters. Various outlets have the death toll at between seven and 17—that number is expected to rise, but it's a very far cry from the 10,000 who died in a 1999 cyclone. "Damage to property is extensive," a police officer in Orissa district, the worst-affected by the cyclone, tells the AP. "But few lives have been lost."

Both news agencies describe a scene of utter destruction, and aid workers tell Reuters that about a million people had lost their homes and their livelihoods in the storm, which slammed into India packing winds of 131mph. Phailin took out some 1.23 million acres of crops worth almost $400 million. (Read more cyclone stories.)

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