- Worst over, says IMD, adding Phailin moving toward Bihar, Chhattisgarh
- Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik said over 9 lakh evacuated; AP govt shifted over a lakh
- As a result, loss of lives kept minimal at 17; 15 in Odisha and 2 in AP
- In both States, extensive damage caused to houses and crops
- Srikakulam remained without electricity on Sunday; telecom, power and road links hit
- Towards Sunday evening, cyclone settled into deep depression
Hyderabad: Phailin – one of the biggest-ever cyclones experienced in the nation's history –weakened since Sunday morning and developed into a deep depression. Andhra Pradesh and Odisha, the two States feared to bear its brunt along the east coast, could thus contain loss of life to minimal extent. Lakhs of peoples were evacuated in both States – the number being put around one million – to cyclone shelters as a disaster of the scale of Katrina, which played havoc with the US in 2005, was forecast.
The advance warning systems and the precautionary measures initiated by the governments of the two states and the Centre helped in greatly minimizing loss of human lives. All agencies involved heaved a sigh of relief as the cyclone effect tapered off.
Phailin made a hard landfall at a speed of over 200 kmph near Gopalpur in Odisha and Bhendi in Srikakulam district in Andhra Pradesh during 8.30-9 pm on Saturday. Armed forces and National Disaster Response Force teams of NDMA (National Disaster Management Authority) have been engaged in clearing the roads of the villages on the inter-state border of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. Over nine lakh people were evacuated to safe places in Odisha from its coastal districts and the figure is approximately 1.2 lakh in Andhra Pradesh.
"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 New Delhi. However, the damage to houses and infrastructure was massive, impacting lives of around 1 crore people in both States. Crop and plantain damages alone were initially estimated to run into thousands of crores. Though it may take two to three days to restore all the power and communication lines that were knocked out, the life is more or less normal in the towns of Kalingapatnam, Baruva, Ichapuram and other mandals in Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh on Sunday. But Gopalpur, Berhampur, Chikati areas of Odisha remained cut off, as it poured down heavily.
Odisha put the crop losses alone at Rs 2400 crores. “What people are talking about in these areas is that their lives are saved from Phailin due to a miracle,” says a reporter of Oriya news channel based in Berhampur. The cyclone had in fact left a trail of destruction on crops and properties. Hundreds of houses were left without roof s in the villages dotting the Gopalpur- Rambha stretch in Odisha, he informed. In all 15 people were killed in Odisha in the cyclone-related incidents. Collapse of walls and tree got uprooted in the impact of the high velocity winds claimed a majority of the lives well before the cyclone crossed the coast. One person died in a wall collapse in Srikakulam district.
The extent of damage was still being assessed by engaging the enumeration teams. Over one lakh coconut trees crashed to ground in Uddanam area of Srikakulam district, according to sources. Some 50 to 60 villages in Ganjam district of Odisha were the worst affected. Kishan Kumar, the Ganjam DM, said that the focus of the administration would be on all such villages thousands of officials and rescue workers were out on the field helping people.