Evacuation was biggest ever in India


India’s evacuation ahead of the arrival of Cyclone Phailin was the nation’s biggest ever, the national disaster agency said Sunday, with about a million people moved from their homes.

“The last biggest evacuation in India’s recorded history was in Andhra Pradesh in 1990,” said Tripti Parule, the spokeswoman for the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), “and this is now much bigger.”

The state of Orissa’s top rescue official said 860,000 people moved before the cyclone made landfall on Saturday evening, while at least another 100,000 were evacuated in the state of Andhra Pradesh, to the south.

The two previous biggest evacuations, according to NDMA, were in 1990, when about 650,000 were shifted in Andhra Pradesh for a cyclone, and 550,000 in 2009 when floods hit the state.

In Gopalpur, where the eye of the storm struck, about 90 to 95 percent of the residents were evacuated, the NDMA said.