India cyclone kills at least 33, hundreds of thousands homeless

Villagers sit on a vehicle as they leave for a safer place ahead of Cyclone Fani on the outskirts of Konark in the eastern state of Odisha. (Reuters)

Hundreds of thousands of people were left homeless after a cyclone packing winds of about 200 km per hour slammed into eastern India, ripping out tin roofs and destroying power and telecom lines, officials said on Sunday.

At least 33 people were killed after Cyclone Fani struck the state of Odisha on Friday but a million people emerged unscathed after they moved into storm shelter ahead of landfall.

The death toll could have been much greater if not for the massive evacuation in the days before the storm made landfall, officials said.

The seaside temple town of Puri, which lay directly in the path of Fani, suffered extensive damage as winds gusting up to 200 kph (124 mph) tore off tin roofs, snapped power lines, and uprooted trees on Friday.

“The cyclone has killed 21 people in Puri and about 300 people are injured,” Brajabandhu Dash, medical officer at Puri, told Reuters. Earlier, 12 deaths were reported from other parts of the state.

The depression over the Western Meghalaya and adjoining Bangladesh has weakened and will become insignificant in the next 24 hours, India’s met department said on Twitter early on Sunday.

According to preliminary reports, Fani damaged power infrastructure worth more than 12 billion rupees ($173.7 million) and the authorities are trying to restore electricity supply for emergency services, another official said.

More than 60,000 people including officials and volunteers were involved in relief operations, said special relief commissioner Bishnupada Sethi, who monitored the evacuation.

The relief effort used sirens, loudspeakers and sent more than 20 million mobile messages to the targeted people, he said.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:59 - GMT 06:59
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