Nightly News   |  October 13, 2013

Cyclone Phailin’s damage just beginning to be assessed

Cyclone Phailin has killed at least 15 people and brought severe damage to India’s coast. NBC’s Duncan Golestani reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> when we came on the air last night a cyclone was making landfall. people heeded the calls to flee to higher ground . duncan is in calcutta with the latest.

>> reporter: people along india's eastern coast are just beginning to discover how much has been destroyed and how many lives lost.

>> this damage is really historical. never happened like this.

>> reporter: slowly they cut and clear the way, trying to reach isolated areas where there could be more casualties.

>> primary concern at the moment is look for survivors. communication has been crippled.

>> reporter: phailin slammed in with winds of 150 miles an hour killing at least 15 people.

>> phailin was comparable in strength to the 1999 cyclone over the bay of bengal . but as it approached phailin weakened.

>> reporter: strong enough to down trees and power lines and damage homes. nearly 1 million people were evacuated from the coast and moved in to shelters on higher ground .

>> the large scale evacuation of people has yielded positive results.

>> reporter: the crisis is not over. many struggling to get back to their villages won't have homes to return to. nearly a quarter million have been destroyed in one district alone.

>> they will go back and find their houses are gone. we need to get them some kind of temporary shelter while they rebuild their homes. we are also looking at water. do they have clean water ?

>> reporter: the challenge is helping those whose lives have been saved but turned upside down. though the hard work is just beginning there is a sense of relief here and almost pride that this time the indian government led its people to safety.