The storm was packing maximum sustained winds of nearly 140 mph when its eye moved ashore near Puri.
Accurate predictions of the storm’s path days earlier allowed officials to evacuate nearly a million people living in vulnerable coastal areas.
This move, one of the largest coordinated evacuations in Indian history, is being credited for the only 43 reported fatalities given that the former Category-5 storm was at Category-4 force when it struck.
U.S. military meteorologists say the super-cyclone packed winds of 195 mph at its peak intensity over the Bay of Bengal a day earlier.
“It's nothing short of a miracle that so many lives were spared. We were expecting the worst, but it just shows that all the time and investment put into preparing for such disasters by the authorities, civil society organizations and communities has paid off,” said Save the Children's Devendra Tak.
Approximately 10,000 people were killed in 1999 when Cyclone 05B struck farther north in Odisha without such advance warning or evacuations.
Cyclone Phailin Track
Satellite Loop Data: CIMSS