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People seek shelter during Cyclone Fani in India, 4 May 2019Image copyright
EPA

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Efforts to reduce loss of human life have been called a success

India has hailed as a success its evacuation of more than a million people to safety to avoid Cyclone Fani.

Between eight and 12 people were killed in the north-eastern Indian state of Orissa, or Odisha, by the storm which hit there on Friday.

Officials said the loss of life could have been far worse.

More than a million people have been moved to safety in Bangladesh as the powerful cyclone, now downgraded, crossed the border on Saturday.

Fani, one of the most severe storms to hit the region in recent years, ripped through eastern areas of India. Up to a dozen people lost their lives in Orissa.

Arun Bothra, inspector-general of Orissa police, hailed efforts to keep people safe.

“There has been massive, massive damage hereā€¦but fortunately, thanks to the people who forecasted this and told us the minute-to-minute movement of the cyclone, the government has been able to evacuate 1.2 million people,” Mr Bothra told the BBC.

“The evacuation part was very successful and the casualties are very, very low,” he said.

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Media captionCyclone Fani lashes India’s east coast

The next phase of returning people to their homes had already started and would continue for the next four to five days, before the huge task of restoring damaged buildings starts, Mr Bothra added.

The storm was located over Bangladesh on Saturday at 08:30 local time (04:00 GMT) but had weakened with gusts up to 70km/h (43mph). It is now categorised as a deep depression.

At its height, Fani brought torrential rains and winds of up to 200 km/h (125mph).

Dozens of villages on the Bangladesh coast have been submerged, officials say.

The storm destroyed several houses in the Noakhali district, where a two-year-old child was killed and about 30 people were injured, a local official told Reuters.