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22 confirmed dead as cyclone Phailin loses fury

14 October 2013, 16:03

New Delhi - At least 22 people died following heavy rains and flooding brought on by a powerful cyclone over the weekend, Indian officials said on Monday.

Cyclone Phailin approached from the Bay of Bengal on Saturday night with winds of up to 200kph, leaving a trail of destruction in the coastal districts of Orissa and Andhra Pradesh states.

Disaster management officials said 21 people were killed by the collapse of houses and falling trees, with one more death in the storm confirmed in Andhra Pradesh.

Orissa launched rescue and relief operations in three districts after flooding in the Subarnarekha, Baitrani and Budhabalanga rivers, state relief official Prabhakar Pradhan said.

"The focus of rescue and relief has shifted to flood-affected areas inland. Workers are out to help rescue stranded people," he said.

Towns and villages were inundated as river levels raised, causing panic, broadcaster NDTV reported.

Flood warnings were also issued in adjoining Bihar state where the Kosi and Gandak rivers were at high levels.

Orissa authorities began to restore power to the affected areas, and residents started returning to their homes after the storm died down.

The Indian Meterological Department said Phailin had weakened into a depression with maximum winds of 55kph, and lay near Orissa's borders.

Phailin was India's most powerful cyclone since a "super cyclone" killed 10 000 people in Orissa 14 years ago. The prevention of a major loss of life was put down to a massive evacuation effort to move 1 million people to safer areas and storm shelters.

According to government assessments, 10 million people were affected in 15 315 villages in Orissa alone; 230 000 houses, many of them thatched huts, were damaged. The cyclone toppled power and communication lines and damaged crops over an area of 600 000 hectares.



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