United India Responds To Phailin, Major Calamity Averted
13 October, 2013
Evacuations like these saved countless lives.
The precautions India took paid off and Cyclone Phailin threat passed off without taking much human casualty. Phailin, which hit India's coast between 8:30 pm and 9:30 pm near Gopalpur in Odisha with wind speeds reaching 220 km per hour on Saturday, has weakened into a depression now. Andhra Pradesh, which was also expected to be hit by the cyclone, mostly escaped its fury. Odisha revenue and disaster management minister SN Patra confirmed that there were no casualties, though nine people were killed due to uprooting of trees in the strong winds before the cyclone struck.
The weakened system was moving beyond Odisha towards the north-northwest with a speed of about 20km per hour, according to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD). It will traverse Bihar and parts of eastern Uttar Pradesh by Tuesday, before moving to Nepal, whose rivers can trigger flooding in Bihar. Jharkhand, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Bihar have been put on alert.
At least 8,73, 000 people were evacuated from 99 blocks spread over 12 districts in the two states, in what is said to be the biggest peacetime human movement in the country.
Authorities were struggling to restore power supplies and telecommunication links in seven coastal districts of Odisha as the winds snapped thousands of trees and poles, while buildings and some communication towers were destroyed. At least 13 electricity towers, nine of them in the worst-hit Ganjam district, were destroyed.
Before Phailin made landfall power supplies were shut down as a precaution.
Odisha government authorities said 5,00,000 hectares of farmland was damaged while 9,00,000 trees were uprooted across seven coastal districts. Ganjam district suffered the maximum damage. The evacuated are huddled in schools and temples, and preventing waterborne diseases will be a major focus.
Meanwhile, Bhubaneswar airport resumed flights on Sunday noon.
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