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Indian expats relieved as cyclone Phailin passes without major casualties

Residents are happy that the government efficiently relocated almost 1 million people in advance

Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News
Clockwise from top left: Sabu Rathnakaran, Raghunandan Reddy, Murali Krishna and Sana Allah.
Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Expatriates from coastal areas of the south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, one of the areas that Cyclone Phailin hit on Saturday, breathed a sigh of relief after the storm passed without causing massive casualties.

“I was worried about my family, relatives and friends in Palakollu [a small town in east Godavari]. However, it was a big relief that the cyclone [passed] without causing any casualties in our area,” Murali Krishna, 38, an engineer said.

The cyclone was supposed to cross Narsapur, a small town 9 kilometres away from his home, where his sister-in-law lives. “Luckily they all are safe,” Krishna said.

The cyclone washed away thousands of homes, disrupted power supply and communications and blocked many roads in the eastern region. However, the number of casualties was relatively small thanks to massive evacuations conducted by the government. Media reports until late afternoon on Sunday put the death toll at about 20. The government evacuated close to a million people, one of the largest such endeavours undertaken in India’s history.

A similar cyclone in 1999 that hit almost the same areas killed more than 10,000 people.

Expatriates said the situation demonstrated India’s capability of dealing with such a calamity efficiently. “Timely warnings and [advance] preparations helped save thousands of lives,” Krishna said.

Krishna, who has been living in the UAE for 15 years, said India’s eastern coast was prone to natural calamities and there were several instances when he and family here were worried about their loved ones back home.

“We are fortunate that this time the cyclone did not cause [as] much damage as expected,” he said.

Reghu Nandan Reddy, a draftsman from Karim Nagar District of Andhra Pradesh, said his family’s vast agricultural land in Mallaram, a small town, was completely destroyed.

“But we [find] solace in the fact that there were no casualties in our area,” Reddy said.

“I feel proud [to be an] Indian. The nation was able to save lives of hundreds of thousands of people,” Krishna said.

Echoing the same feeling, Sanaullah Athaullah, 36, an electrical engineer, from the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu, said although his state was not affected, he was worried about all his countrymen.

“But timely action has saved hundreds of thousands of people, I am very happy about it,” he said.

Advocate Sabu Ratnakaran, 40, from Kerala said the situation also demonstrated India’s progress in science and technology that helped them get early warnings on the cyclone. The efficient evacuation is a new feat for India, Ratnakaran said.