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Grief, Devastation Emerge in Wake of Indian Cyclone

November 10, 1996|From Times Wire Services

KAKINADA, India — Their dresses torn and their flowing black hair in tangles, women gathered along the shore here Saturday to stare at the sea. Some wailed for their fishermen husbands, missing in a cyclone and presumed dead.

Three days after the cyclone hit this area of southeastern India, home to 2.5 million farmers and fishermen, and killed at least 1,000 people, the extent of the disaster was emerging.

Rescuers scoured hundreds of devastated villages for survivors. Search teams looked for victims still trapped and marooned.

Elsewhere, people cremated their loved ones in funeral pyres. Others gathered wood and palm leaves to rebuild their homes.

Navy helicopters spent a second day dropping rice, drinking water, medicine and clothing to the stranded.

The cyclone swirled in Wednesday from the Bay of Bengal with 112-mph winds and torrential rains, toppling mud dwellings and submerging roads and rails in 2 feet of water.

Andhra Pradesh state officials said Saturday evening that they feared the death toll would exceed 1,000. A top state official said earlier that nearly 1,000 fishermen were still missing at sea.

Coast guard ships spotted the bodies of 50 fishermen Saturday off the coast near Kakinada, one relief official said.

Relief workers had set up 557 camps in schools, colleges and office buildings.

Authorities also were trying to prevent a cholera outbreak in the tent camps holding storm refugees.

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