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Indians say cyclone evacuation kept them alive

A mass evacuation kept the death toll low in India’s fiercest cyclone in 14 years, but property damage has been extensive.
A mass evacuation kept the death toll low in India’s fiercest cyclone in 14 years, but property damage has been extensive.Credit: Adnan Abidi /Reuters

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PODAMPETTA, India — Agya Amma’s house in this seaside village was flattened by the cyclone that roared in from the Bay of Bengal with torrential rains and winds topping 131 miles per hour. But the fact that she was still here Monday, surveying the ruins of her home, was proof that this was a different kind of disaster for India.

Unlike past storms that have lashed India’s eastern coast, Cyclone Phailin did not extract a heavy human toll, thanks to a massive and improbable evacuation effort that effectively moved nearly 1 million residents of one of India’s poorest regions out of the storm’s path and into government shelters.

By Monday, only 25 people had been reported killed, even though tens of thousands of homes were destroyed.

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