49 Dead as Cyclone Hits South Asia

NEW DELHI (AP) -- A rare summer cyclone that tore through parts of South Asia killed at least 34 people in India and 15 in neighboring Bangladesh and smashed thousands of thatched-roof huts, officials said Monday.

The evacuation of more than 1 million people from about 15,000 villages and 46 towns in India's worst-hit Odisha state prevented a much worse death toll from one of the biggest storms in decades. The preparations demonstrated greatly improved disaster readiness since 1999, when a "super" cyclone killed about 10,000 people and devastated large parts of the state.

Authorities in Odisha were still assessing the full impact of Cyclone Fani, which lashed coastal areas with rain and winds gusting up to 205 kilometers (127 miles) per hour when it made a landfall on Friday, relief official S.K. Das said.

After weakening, the cyclone moved into neighboring Bangladesh through India's West Bengal state.

Telephone links were still down Monday in the worst-hit Puri district in Odisha. Hundreds of thousands of people in Puri and Khurda districts were also without electricity, with the state government hoping to restore it later Monday, the Times of India newspaper said.

Indian Railways said it would take four more days to restore normal train services in the region. Authorities canceled 287 trains passing through the worst-hit region because of damage caused by the cyclone.

"Cyclone Fani is one of the rarest of rare summer cyclones to hit Odisha in 43 years. It is also one of three to hit in the last 150 years," said the state's top elected official, Navin Patnaik. Tropical cyclones usually occur in the Bay of Bengal from September to November.