Cyclone 'Laila' batters AP

Cyclone 'Laila' batters AP

Cyclone 'Laila' batters AP

Fishermen taking precautions after a warning for cyclone 'Laila' in Vishakhapatnam on Wednesday. PTI

Seven persons were killed and 100 fishermen reported missing as cyclone ‘Laila’ wreaked havoc in several coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh on Thursday.

While the government evacuated 50,000 people to safety in the affected areas, about 20 persons were reported to be stranded by the swirling waters of Regulagunta stream in Prakasam district. Efforts are on to rescue them.

‘Laila’, accompanied by torrential rains and gales at speeds of between 65 kmph and 70 kmph, devastated thousands of acres of crops in the coastal districts and uprooted trees, electricity poles, cellphone towers and communication lines.

Roads and railway tracks were inundated forcing the South Central Railway to cancel or divert about 60 trains originating from here.

Prakasam and Guntur are the most affected districts, according to official reports. As many as 774 villages in 73 mandals in the path of the cyclone have been badly affected, officials said.

Officials heaved a sigh of relief with ‘Laila’ losing much of its intensity and slowed down its movement before crossing the coast 50 km from Bapatla in Guntur. As it moved in a northerly direction, towards Srikakulam, weather experts predicted it could strike Balasore in Orissa and then even return to the sea, gather intensity and then head towards WesPTI Graphicst Bengal. However, there was a lot of confusion as some reports said the storm had crossed in the afternoon near Bapatla, but disaster management officials confirmed the storm had crossed around 5 pm.

Even though the intensity of the storm was less, torrential rains brought normal life to a standstill across nine districts. Rainfall recorded in the storm-hit areas ranged from 10 cm to 34 cm, the highest being in Ongole city in Prakasam district. All the 12 gates of the Gundlakamma project in the district were opened to let out 1.3 lakh cusecs of water.

As many as 1,492 villages and 11 major towns across the coastal districts went without power as rains brought down electricity poles and power lines. However, in some places, officials cut off power supply as a precautionary measure after three persons of a family were electrocuted in Krishna district.

Two in East Godavari and one each in Krishna and Vizianagaram districts were also killed, according to the state disaster management authorities who said two persons were missing in Krishna district.

Officials said apart from the massive damage to infrastructure, ‘Laila’ would cripple the state’s economy as it had flattened standing crops of paddy, mangoes and banana over several thousand acres.

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