IndiaIsrael News photo: Flash 90

A large-scale tropical storm hit India's eastern shores on Saturday, with powerful winds and heavy down-pour equivalent to a Category 5 hurricane.

State authorities in the Orissa province of India have reported at least seven deaths as a result of Cyclone Phailin. Extensive damage to crops, communications, and other infrastructure have been reported, as well.

Although official reports have not yet been released from the Andhra Pradesh province next to Orissa, during Saturday night, estimates reported five deaths in that province since the cyclone hit land, sometime yesterday.

The Government of India tried to prepare for the gigantic tropical storm with winds that reached speeds of 240 miles per hour, and sent rescue teams throughout the area to transfer residents to shelters. 

Some 2 million people who reside in the densely populated coastline found themselves under threat of the storm. Many of them left their homes and took refuge, while some remain in the dangerous areas either to protect their property or because there were not enough troops to evacuate them. 

Authorities' main concern is that Cyclone Phailin's outcome could become as destructive as the Odisha Cyclone which devastated India in 1999 and resulted in 10,000 deaths. 

Even after the initial damage of the cyclone passes, the storm will likely continue with winds and heavy rain, complicating rescue team operations in search of missing people.