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This weekend, India weathered one of the worst storms to strike its coast in recent history, Cyclone Phailin.
Even while thousands of homes were destroyed and power lines struck down, the number of reported deaths has not reached above 20 as of yet. The dramatically low number of casualties can be attributed to India’s unprecedented evacuation effort, relocating over 800,000 people in the days preceding the storm, The New York Times reports.
Compared to the 10,000 casualties lost in a storm 14 years ago, which hit approximately the same location, this storm’s damage has been relatively modest. Improvements in India’s communications system plays a huge role in these low figures, as very few Indians were unaware of the cyclone’s arrival.
While deaths were relatively low, many warn about the storm’s effects on India’s quality of life.
The Head of Climate Change of the Overseas Development Institute, Dr. Tom Mitchell, told Channel 4 News, “This is about livelihoods as well as lives. Over the two decades many parts of India [...] will be increasingly exposed to disasters [...] The focus on how deadly disasters can be should not obscure the fact that many homes, hospitals, shops and schools will have been impacted in ways which will drive people into poverty.”