HYDERABAD, India (AFP) – A major relief operation was under way Monday after a cyclone pounded India’s eastern coast, killing at least six people and leaving a trail of destruction, but officials said mass evacuations helped avert a larger tragedy.
Most of the deaths were caused by falling trees and collapsed buildings in the southeastern state of Andhra Pradesh, which was worst hit by Cyclone Hudhud. A one-year-old child from the port city of Visakhapatnam was among the dead.
The storm struck just before midday on Sunday, bringing torrential rain and winds of nearly 200 kilometres (125 miles) an hour before weakening as it barrelled inland.
Authorities in Andhra Pradesh and the neighbouring state of Orissa evacuated around 350,000 people before the cyclone hit, in an attempt to avert the mass casualties inflicted on the area by previous cyclones.
“The government was able to reduce loss of life due to the precautionary measures taken,” Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu told the Press Trust of India (PTI).
PK Mohapatra, special relief commissioner of Orissa, told AFP his state was “better prepared this time”, after Cyclone Phailin killed at least 18 people in the state last year.
“People followed our cyclone warning, there was hardly any traffic on the roads,” Mohapatra said.