Cyclone Fani kills at least 33 in India

Cyclone damage in eastern India
Cyclone damage in eastern India. Photo credit: AAP

Hundreds of thousands of people have been left homeless after a cyclone with winds up to 200km/h slammed into eastern India, ripping off tin roofs and destroying power and telecom lines, officials say.

At least 33 people were killed after cyclone Fani struck the state of Odisha on Saturday 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 200km/h 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 weather department said on Twitter early on Sunday.

According to preliminary reports, Fani damaged power infrastructure 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.

Fani was the strongest summer cyclone in 43 years to hit Odisha, disrupting water supplies and transport links, the state's chief minister Naveen Patnaik said in a statement.

Relief agencies were trying to provide food and medicine to victims in other parts of the state, while hundreds of thousands were still not accessible due to roadblocks and disruption in the communication network, officials said.

Reuters.

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