The Indian Coast Guard rescued 17 sailors yesterday whose cargo ship sank during Cyclone Phailin, officials said, as the death toll in the storm rose to 23 people along the eastern coastline.
A mass government evacuation of nearly 1 million people spared India the widespread deaths many had feared from the powerful weekend cyclone, which destroyed hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of crops and tens of thousands of homes.
The lifeboat carrying the crew of the MV Bingo was spotted by a coast guard aircraft on Sunday off the coast of Odisha State, which took the brunt of the cyclone. They were brought to Kolkata yesterday.
“All of them are safe now and they have been sent to a hospital for checkup,” coast guard Commandant Rajendra Nath told the Press Trust of India news agency.
Officials in Odisha and neighboring Anhra Pradesh State said the death toll had risen to 23 people, PTI reported.
Cyclone Phailin weakened significantly after making landfall early on Saturday night, with sustained winds of up to 210kph, Indian meteorologists said.
The government — which had faced immense public criticism after its slow response to deadly floods and mudslides in June that killed more than 6,000 people in the northern state of Uttarakhand — moved aggressively to deal with Phailin. More than 870,000 people were evacuated in Odisha and more than 100,000 in Andhra Pradesh.
Heavy rains and surging seawater destroyed more than 500,000 hectares of crops worth about US$395 million, Odisha Minister of Disasters S.N. Patro said.