Fierce Phailin hits Odisha, AP coasts

Devastating cyclone : Landfall at 9 pm on Saturday; wind at 200 kmph; 7 killed

Fierce Phailin hits Odisha, AP coasts

Severe cyclone “Phailin” pounded Odisha and Andhra Pradesh on Saturday, bringing with it torrential rain and 200 kmph-force gales that wreaked havoc on the coastal areas of both states.

Described as the second biggest cyclone after the disastrous super cyclone of 1999, Phailin made landfall in Odisha around 9 pm, uprooting trees, electricity and communication poles andasbestos and thatched roofs in coastal Odisha and north coastal Andhra.

Seven deaths were reported from Odisha in rain-related incidents, including house collapse and uprooting of trees, while there were no immediate reports of any casualty from neighbouring Andhra Pradesh.

Several parts of coastal Odisha and Srikakulam district in Andhra Pradesh plunged into darkness at the time of landfall. Authorities have advised people to remain indoors till the wind speed comes down.

The eye of the storm touched the coast near Gopalpur and it will take an hour to completely cross the coast, India Meteorological Department (IMD) Director-General L S  Rathore told reporters in New Delhi.

He said the wind speed could increase by 10 to 15 km an hour and the severe storm would maintain its intensity for six hours after crossing the coast. Storm surges of 3 to 3.5 metres are also likely along the coast. It is likely to continue as a cyclonic storm for another six hours.

Rathore said the threat was not over as heavy to very heavy rain might trigger floods.

The IMD has forecast rain over the next 48 hours in Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and adjoining states.

The storm is expected to inundate low-lying areas in Ganjam, Khurda, Puri and Jagatsinghpur districts in Odisha and Srikakulam in Andhra Pradesh, said officials.

Over four lakh people in Odisha and one lakh people in north coastal Andhra Pradesh were evacuated to safe places. The Army, Navy, Air Force and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) were on standby for rescue and relief work.

Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said 4.5 lakh people were evacuated from the low-lying areas of Odisha and another one lakh in Andhra.

“On the whole, 12,000 NDRF personnel are deployed in Odisha and 600 in Andhra Pradesh,” said National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Vice-Chairman Shashidhar Reddy.

Twenty-three teams of the NDRF are deployed in Odisha, whereas there are 11 teams in Andhra Pradesh, he said.

“Crops will be the worst hit due to the cyclone,” Reddy said.

He also said that of all the resources available with the NDMA, 40 per cent would be used in Ganjam district in Odisha, “which is likely to bear the brunt of the storm.”

All flights were cancelled at Bhubaneswar airport while the railways cancelled 56 trains between Howrah and Visakhapatnam and diverted some trains. Eighteen fishermen, who went for fishing in the Bay of Bengal in a trawler over a week ago, were stranded in the sea in the Astaranga area of Puri district. The Coast Guard has been told to rescue them, the police said.

Andhra Pradesh’s Disaster Management Commissioner T Radha said winds with speed of 180 km an hour uprooted trees and electricity and communication poles in Srikakulam district. He said the electricity supply was also disrupted.

He said there was not much impact of the cyclone so far in Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam districts.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N  Kiran Kumar Reddy on Saturday night held a meeting with officials to review the situation. He directed the officials to take all measures to provide immediate relief to people.

Reddy said all departments were on the alert for rescue and relief work. Ministers and special officers in the coastal districts were monitoring the situation.

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