Flood warning issued in Bihar as widespread rains are expected in Phailin’s wake; wind speed of the cyclone is now 100 to 110 kmph

Seventeen persons were killed as the very severe cyclonic storm, Phailin, hit the Odisha coast near Gopalpur in Ganjam district late on Saturday evening, Special Relief Commissioner P.K. Mohapatra told The Hindu on Sunday.

More than 1.26 crore people were hit by the cyclone that damaged lakhs of thatched and kutcha houses in the coastal districts. Ganjam district was the worst hit.

Mr. Mohapatra said six persons were killed in Ganjam while three each were killed in Puri and Balasore districts, two in Nayagarh and one each in Jagatsinghpur, Khurda and Bhadrak. The death toll was likely to increase. Most of these deaths occurred following uprooting of trees.

Though lakhs of trees were uprooted in these districts, major roads were being cleared by the administration with the help of the National Disaster Rapid Action Force and the Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik reviewed the situation and instructed all departments to carry out relief and restoration work on a war-footing.

In Bhubaneswar and Cuttack, normal life continues to remain out of gear as uprooted trees blocked many roads. Many Durga Puja pandals had crashed following the heavy winds that swept the coastal region throughout the night.

Electricity supply was badly affected in most of the affected areas. Power supply was likely to resume in a day or two.

The cyclone, which made its landfall near Gopalpur at 8.30 p.m. on Saturday with a wind speed reaching up to 220 km per hour, moved into the interior parts of Odisha.

Trains cancelled

Train services remained cancelled on the Howrah-Visakhapatnam route. However, services between Howrah and Bhadrak were resumed partially to help passengers stranded at various stations.

The Bhubaneswar airport started functioning normally from Sunday afternoon.

The Odisha government had evacuated over nine lakh people to safer places. This helped save lives, Mr. Mohapatra said.

According to preliminary estimates, about 14,500 villages in 1,900 gram panchayats in 99 blocks had been affected. The storm had also its impact on 39 urban local bodies in the region.

The cyclone has damaged five lakh hectares of crops. Mr. Mohapatra said that Odisha would not use the services of the armed forces for airdropping relief materials. The work would be undertaken by district officials.