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Cyclone hammers eastern India

SHERRYLYN CLARKE, [email protected]

Cyclone hammers eastern India

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BEHRAMPUR, India (AP) – An immense, powerful cyclone packing destructive winds hammered eastern India today, forcing more than 500 000 people to evacuate and sending seawater surging inland.
Reports of deaths and the extent of damage from Cyclone Phailin won’t become clear until after daybreak.
The storm, which made landfall early last night near the town of Golpalpur in Orissa state, was expected to cause large-scale power and communications outages and shut down road and rail links, officials said. It’s also expected to cause extensive damage to crops.
Officials in both Orissa and Andhra Pradesh have been stockpiling emergency food supplies and setting up shelters. The Indian military has put some of its forces on alert, and has trucks, transport planes and helicopters at the ready for relief operations.
Roads were all but empty yesterday as high waves pounded the coastline of Orissa state. Seawater pushed inland, swamping villages where many people survive as subsistence farmers in mud and thatch huts.
As the cyclone swept across the Bay of Bengal toward the Indian coast, satellite images showed its spinning tails covering an area larger than France.