TODAY   |  October 13, 2013

Search and rescue underway in India’s cyclone aftermath

A cyclone tore into the coastline in India, and emergency officials are trying to get a handle on both the physical damage, as well as the human cost. TODAY’s Dylan Dreyer reports.

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

>>> officials in india are assessing the damage after the powerful cyclone slammed onshore saturday. despite the destruction, there are very few reports of deaths. dylan is here with a look at that. sounds like the evacuations paid off.

>> they certainly did. this storm was extremely powerful when it came onshore. the evacuation order for hundreds of thousands of people seemed to have saved a lot of lives. the full fury of the cyclone slammed into the heavy populated eastern shore of india saturday, whipping the coastline with winds of 120 miles per hour, as strong as a cat 3 hurricane. the storm surge is what usually causes the most damage. this one is estimated at a whopping 11 feet. at least a half million people fled to higher ground and huddled in makeshift shelters. this man says his house has been destroyed. power is out in much of the vov vince where the storm hit. the cyclone was enormous by any standard. this nasa photo shows the system stretching over nearly the entire bay of bengal , a monster measures 750 miles across, nearly the distance from new york to chicago. its power similar to hurricane katrina in 2005 . the last time a storm of this size hit this area of india , back in 1999 , 10,000 people lost their lives. indian authorities prepared for a huge storm, but the job of search and rescue won't be easy.

>> there are a lot of people, farmers, fishermen, they live in small places. getting them by only radio --

>> so now it's all about the cleanup. the good news is this storm is pretty much wiped out at this point. it was at one point again the whole size of the bay of ben gal. you can see the distinct eye of this storm, at one point nearly equivalent to a category 5 hurricane. as soon as it made landfall yesterday morning, its weakened