Behrampur - The Indian coast guard rescued 17 sailors on
Monday whose cargo ship sank during Cyclone Phailin, officials said, as the
death toll in the storm rose to 23 people along the eastern coastline.
A mass government evacuation of nearly 1 million people
spared India the widespread deaths many had feared from the powerful weekend
cyclone, which destroyed hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of crops and
tens of thousands of homes.
The lifeboat carrying the crew of the MV Bingo was spotted
by a coast guard aircraft on Sunday off the coast of Orissa state, which took
the brunt of the cyclone. They were brought to Calcutta on Monday.
"All of them are safe now and they have been sent to a
hospital for check-up," coast guard Commandant Rajendra Nath told the
Press Trust of India news agency.
Officials in Orissa and neighbouring Anhra Pradesh state,
meanwhile, said the death toll had risen to 23 people, PTI reported.
Cyclone Phailin, the strongest tropical storm to hit India
in more than a decade, weakened significantly after making landfall early on Saturday night, with sustained winds of up to 210km/h,
according to Indian meteorologists.
The government, which had faced immense public criticism
after its slow response to deadly floods and mudslides in June that killed more
than 6 000 people in the northern state of Uttarakhand moved aggressively to deal
In part that was because of memories of a 1999 Orissa
cyclone, which devastated the coastline and left at least 10 000 people dead.
Nearly 1 million people were evacuated from the coast ahead
of Phailin, including more than 870 000 in Orissa and more than 100 000 in neighbouring
For the people living along the coast, many of them
subsistence farmers living in mud-and-thatch huts, the economic toll will be
Heavy rains and surging seawater destroyed more than 500 000
hectares of crops worth an estimated $395mn, according to Orissa's disaster
minister, SN Patro.
The Indian Ocean is a cyclone hot spot, and 27 of the 35
deadliest storms in history, including the 1999 cyclone have come through the
Bay of Bengal and landed in either India or Bangladesh.