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India evacuations 'saved lives'

Mass evacuations have spared India the widespread deaths many had feared from a powerful cyclone that roared ashore over the weekend, officials said. Nearly one million people were evacuated from the coast ahead of Cyclone Phailin making landfall.

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Evacuations 'kept cyclone death toll to a bare minimum'

India's National Disaster Management Authority said the large scale evacuation operation ahead of Cyclone Phailin had kept the death toll to a "bare minimum".

A woman stands outside her damaged house after Cyclone Phailin hit Gopalpur in eastern India. Credit: REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

Vice chairman Shashidhar Reddy told reporters in Delhi, "Another thing that has happened, it has moved on, it didn't remain stationary. So that has also helped, even though it was 200kph (124mph) wind speed."

Phailin weakened significantly after making landfall as a Category 4 storm, with sustained winds of up to 210kph (131mph), according to Indian meteorologists.

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