Indian people watch high tide waves as they stand at the Bay of Bengal coast in Vishakhapatnam, India, Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013. Hundreds of thousands of people living along India's eastern coastline were taking shelter Saturday from a massive, powerful cyclone Phailin that was set to reach land packing destructive winds and heavy rains. (AP Photo)
India has begun sorting through miles of wreckage after a cyclone roared ashore, flooding towns and villages and destroying tens of thousands of thatch homes along the eastern coastline.
But officials say the country has been spared the widespread loss of life that many had feared. Officials say they know of only seven deaths. Most of them were killed by falling branches or collapsing buildings in the rains ahead of the cyclone.
The final death toll is almost certain to climb, and parts of the cyclone-battered coast remain isolated by downed communication links and blocked roads. But initial indications are that the government's evacuation of more than 600,000 people saved many lives.
The top police officer in the Orissa district says "damage to property is extensive." But he says "few lives have been lost." Orissa was the district worst hit by the storm.