Three confirmed dead in Indian cyclone: state official

BHUBANESWAR, India - At least three people died in cyclone Phailin which lashed India's east coast overnight and nearly a million people were evacuated, a state official told AFP on Sunday.

"We have confirmed three casualties, three deaths. We don't have confirmed reports of injuries yet," Pradipta Kumar Mohapatra, special relief commissioner for the state of Orissa, said by telephone.

He said that an estimated 860,000 people had been evacuated in Orissa, which added to at least 100,000 in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh state. "We almost cleared out the danger zone. In the end, we cleared more than 8.61 lakh (861,000) people. It might be India's biggest evacuation ever," Mohapatra added to AFP.

"We decided we would not take any chances, any compromise." Orissa was hit by a stronger storm in 1999 which killed more than 8,000 and the state government has been keen to stress its preparedness this time round.

Winds of about 200 kilometres an hour (125 miles per hour) and heavy rain pounded the impoverished east coast of India overnight, knocking out power for millions and causing widespread damage to property and crops.