Cyclone Phailin in India: early warning and timely actions saved lives

Effective disaster planning, preparation and dissemination of early warning information led to a minimal death toll in the wake of the strongest cyclone to hit India in 14 years. In mid-October, Cyclone Phailin swept over the Bay of Bengal and across the eastern coast of India, causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damage and affecting the livelihoods of 13 million people. The evacuation of more than a million people in the states of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh in response to effective early warnings resulted in a much lower death toll than a catastrophic cyclone of similar strength that struck in 1999, leaving 10,000 people dead. Continued early warning efforts could have similar positive results in the future, and when accompanied by good communication and adequate preparation, impacts of disasters could be mitigated or even prevented. This bulletin will focus on the lessons learned from Cyclone Phailin and how they can be applied to other disasters such as the recent Typhoon Haiyan.