Laila threat looms large over AP

Natures fury: Kakinada and Nellore in eye of storm

Laila threat looms large over AP

A motorcyclist is assisted by children as he uses a trolley to move his vehicle through floodwaters in Chennai on Wednesday during heavy rain ahead of the arrival of Cyclone Laila. AFP

Cyclone “Laila,” likely to cross the coast between Kakinada and Nellore in the early hours of Thursday, will be accompanied by strong gales reaching

110 kmph to 150 kmph and high tidal waves, according to the Visakhapatnam Cyclone Centre. The highest danger of number 10 has been hoisted in all the eight ports along the coast from Nellore in the south to Srikakulam in the north.

Hundreds of people in the low lying areas have been moved to safety as a precautionary measure even as some families in Krishna district resisted evacuation and had to be forcibly moved.

The weather office forecast heavy to very heavy rain during the next 48 hours. The rainfall is expected to be as much as 25 while the gale-speed is likely to be 115-125 kmph at the time of the landfall.

“Storm surge of 1.5 to 2 metres above the astronomical tide is likely to inundate the coastal areas of Guntur, Krishna and West and East Godavari districts of Andhra Pradesh at the time of landfall,” warned the India Meteorological Department (IMD) in its bulletin.
The cyclonic storm is travelling at an unusually high speed of 20 kmph as opposed to the normal 10 kmph, according to experts. This is the first major cyclone in the last 14 years and the first one in 20 years in May.

Several low-lying areas in Kakinada town were flooded as the city recorded 10 cm of rain since morning on Wednesday. Heavy rain has also been lashing  Vizianagaram, Srikakulam, Visakhapatnam, East Godavari, West Godavari, Krishna and Guntur districts along with parts of the Rayalaseema and Telangana regions since Wednesday morning.

Chief Minister K Rosaiah  held two emergency meetings to review the cyclone threat and relief preparations. He  deputed ministers to the coastal districts to oversee relief and rehabilitation. He has asked the district collectors to keep helicopters ready for rescue. The Navy and the Army have been requested to stand by for relief and rescue operations if needed. Oil refineries have suspended drilling work in the Krishna-Godavari basin off the coast in East Godavari district. The Bay of Bengal region has the biggest offshore natural gas field in the country.

In view of the cyclone threat, the ruling Congress  has put off it re-dedication celebrations on Thursday to coincide with the first anniversary of the government.
Over 50,000 people were evacuated in the nine coastal Andhra districts. While some people volunteered to  move out to safety, in several districts the officials had to forcibly move the people out of their homes in low-lying areas that are in danger of flooding.
Traffic to the two airports in Visakhapatnam and Rajahmundry have been suspended as the weather is squally and is being lashed by heavy rain.

The AP State Road Transport Corporation has also suspended bus services to the area. The government has requested the Railway authorities to suspend its train services that pass through the areas threatened by the cyclone for the next 48 hours. East Godavari, West Godavari, Krishna and Guntur are likely to bear the brunt of the cyclone “Laila.” The government identified 777 villages as vulnerable to the cyclone.

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