NEW DELHI (AFP) – Powerful Cyclone Hudhud which battered India’s east coast at the weekend has killed at least 22 people, damaged thousands of homes, blacked out villages and left people scrambling for supplies, officials said Tuesday.
Schools remained shut, electricity lines were down and communication systems were only partially working in the port city of Visakhapatnam in the southeastern state of Andhra Pradesh, worst affected by the cyclonic winds which slammed into the coast at 200 kilometres an hour Sunday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who surveyed cyclone-hit areas of the state from the air Tuesday, told reporters clever use of technology by India’s weather office helped save lives.
“In this cyclone, the weather department used (forecasting) technology very well” to assist authorities in getting ready for the storm, said Modi in Visakhapatnam.
Mass evacuations before the onset of the cyclone helped avert a much larger death toll, officials said. While Cyclone Phailin killed at least 18 people in Orissa last year, more than 8,000 people were killed in the state in a cyclone in 1999.
Residents in parts of Visakhapatnam jostled and shoved as relief trucks distributed food packets and water bottles.
Essential goods were in short supply as many roads were impassable and bus, train and flights were suspended.
“We feel we’re travelling back in time… so many commodities we take for granted are lost now – it will take some time to recover,” a young woman told CNN-IBN television network.
Some 250,000 people from Andhra Pradesh and thousands more in neighbouring Orissa were affected by the storm, many of them poor fishermen and farmers.