15 October 2013
One of the most severe cyclones in recent years, Cyclone Phailin, has affected up to ten million people. Heavy downpours and blasting winds damaged or destroyed around 200,000 rural houses, leaving 600,000 people homeless. Rice crops, power supplies, phone lines and rail links have also been destroyed.
Thanks to evacuations and rescue efforts the death toll was low for such a large-scale disaster, with news reports suggesting that fewer than 25 people were killed. However, the rural area hit by the cyclone was extremely vulnerable – with many houses made of straw and mud. This means the impact on people’s lives and livelihoods will be devastating.
Pete Garratt, British Red Cross disaster response manager, said: “The preparations made by the government and the Indian Red Cross helped keep deaths to a minimum. The Red Cross helped with evacuations and opened 75 cyclone shelters in coastal areas.
“These measures undoubtedly helped limit the loss of life, but now we must now look at the long-term effects of this cyclone. Many hundreds of thousands of people have lost everything, and the impact on millions of people is likely to be severe.”
Red Cross support
The Indian Red Cross has mobilised disaster response and first aid volunteers in the affected states of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh. It has also distributed 200 tarpaulins and 200 bed sheets to people in evacuation centres.
In preparation for the cyclone, the Red Cross had set up two water treatment units in Odisha. These are helping provide people with clean drinking water. The Indian Red Cross is sending a further 11,000 tarpaulins and another water treatment unit from its national warehouse to help evacuated people across the region.
Yesterday, the British Red Cross launched its India Cyclone Appeal and gave £50,000 from its Disaster Fund to help provide immediate relief.
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