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Powerful Cyclone Hits India

Indian authorities are just beginning to assess the destruction from powerful Cyclone Phailin, which came ashore late Saturday along the country's east coast with winds of over 200 kilometers per hour.

The situation is still not clear Sunday as the storm knocked down power and communication lines in the coastal districts of Orissa state. More than 10 million people live in the path of the storm in Orissa and neighboring Andhra Pradesh.

While Phailin gradually weakens, it will still cause heavy rains and winds until late Monday as it moves northwest into the interior areas of Orissa and Chhattisgarh states.

Officials say the storm is known to have killed a handful of people, but the evacuation of nearly a million people ahead of the cyclone is believed to have prevented many deaths.

Still, the high winds cut power and communication, uprooted trees, damaged coastal homes and destroyed crops.



In a Saturday briefing, Disaster Management Commissioner T. Radha said huts and older buildings in the storm's path could not withstand its winds. He also said low-lying areas would likely be submerged.

The Indian army, navy and air force have been deployed to assist with rescue and recovery efforts following Cyclone Phailin, which had been predicted to be one of the country's most powerful storms on record.

Cyclones in the Bay of Bengal are common this time of year, frequently wreaking havoc and causing mass deaths in coastal India and Bangladesh. A cyclone hit Orissa state in 1999, killing at least 10,000 people.

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