NEW DELHI, Oct. 13 (Xinhua) -- A powerful tropical cyclone hit the eastern Indian state of Odisha late Saturday night, causing heavy rainfall and sending seawater surging inland.
The cyclone, nicknamed Phailin, made landfall in Odisha at 9.30 p.m. (local time) last night with wind speed of 200 km per hour, snapping communication, power lines and uprooting trees, said authorities.
Though no one has been killed in the cyclone, seven deaths happened before the storm made landfall in incidents like wall collapse, a senior police official said Sunday.
In 1999, a similar cyclone killed more than 10,000 people in Odisha.
According to authorities, this time half a million people have been evacuated from the path of the cyclone in Odisha and the neighboring southern state of Andhra Pradesh, which is not that affected.
"The Indian Army, the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force are all helping in the evacuation process, alongside the country's disaster management personnel," a government official said.
He said that all the troops would be starting re-development work in the two states once the fury of cyclone Phaili abated.
Local TV channels reported that trees have been falling and there was no drinking water in many parts of Odisha, with Ganjam District being the worst affected.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has appealed for calm. "I request everyone not to panic. Please assist the government. Everyone from villages to the state headquarters has been put on alert," he said.
The weather department has predicted heavy to very heavy falls in Odisha and north coastal Andhra Pradesh in the next 36 hours, and rainfall in the neighboring states of West Bengal and Jharkhand.