Mass evacuations spared India the widespread deaths many had feared from a powerful cyclone that roared ashore over the weekend, officials have said.

The Vice Chairman of India's National Disaster Management Authority, Shashidhar Reddy, said on Sunday in Delhi that the evacuations had kept the death toll from Cyclone Phailin to a "bare minimum".

Cyclone Phailin leaves trail of destruction in India

The cyclone was the strongest storm to hit India in more than a decade and destroyed crops worth hundreds of millions of dollars - but killed only 17 people, according to official figures a day after it made landfall.

"Another thing that has happened, it has moved on, it didn't remain stationary. So that has also helped, even though it was 200 kilometres wind speed," Reddy said of the cyclone.

Phailin weakened significantly after making landfall as a Category 4 storm, with sustained winds of up to 210 kilometres per hour (131 miles per hour), according to Indian meteorologists.

Officials in both Odisha and Andhra Pradesh, the areas worst hit, had been stockpiling emergency food supplies and setting up shelters.

The last cyclone of a similar size to hit the area, in 1999, killed an estimated 10,000 people.

The final death toll is expected to climb further as officials reach areas of the cyclone-battered coast that remain isolated by downed communication links and blocked roads.

Al Jazeera's Faiz Jamil, reporting from Srikakulam in Andra Pradesh, said that the destruction of crops would have huge implications not only for the farmers but food supply in India.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies