Saturday, 11 October 2014

Thousands evacuated as Cyclone Hudhud nears Andhra, Odisha

HYDERABAD/BHUBANESWAR: With Cyclone Hudhud expected to hit the Andhra Pradesh and Odisha coasts tomorrow, state authorities today evacuated thousands of people in vulnerable areas to safer places.

The cyclone is expected to make a landfall near Visakhapatnam by tomorrow afternoon, a senior official said, adding, about 1.11 lakh people in five coastal districts have been shifted to safer places.

The Andhra government has made arrangements to evacuate 5,14,725 people in all, officials said, while the Army and the Navy have kept their personnel on stand-by for rescue and relief operations.

According to the reports received by the state Disaster Management Commissioner A.R. Sukumar, 35,000 persons have been evacuated in Srikakulam district, 6,000 in Vizianagaram, 15,000 in Visakhapatnam, 50,000 in East Godavari and 5,000 in West Godavari district.

Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu has been reviewing the situation with top officials and requested ISRO to provide satellite images of Hudhud's course.

In all, 436 villages across 64 mandals in the five districts have been identified as exposed to the threat of cyclone. The government has identified 370 relief camps for the evacuated people in these districts.

In Odisha, the state government today began evacuating people from vulnerable areas to minimise casualties even as two flights and 39 trains on the route were cancelled.

"The collectors of eight districts — Koraput, Malkangiri, Nabarangpur, Rayagada, Gajapati, Ganjam, Kalahandi and Kandhamal — have been on the job to shift people from vulnerable areas to safe places," Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) P.K. Mohapatra said.

Rain has been reported from some areas, mostly in the southern region, but there was no report of any major damage so far, sources in the SRC said.

In Delhi, an Indian Meteorological Department bulletin said heavy to very heavy rainfall is expected in the next 48 hours in parts of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha as 'Hudhud', which has developed into a very severe cyclone, nears Visakhapatnam and Gopalpur.

It said the cyclone moved west-northwestwards during past six hours and lay centred about 260 km southeast of Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh and 350 km south-southeast of Gopalpur in Odisha.

"The system would move northwestwards and cross north Andhra Pradesh coast around Visakhapatnam by the forenoon of October 12," it said.

Under the influence of the cyclonic system, heavy to very heavy rainfall would take place over west and east Godavari, Visakhapatnam, Vijayanagaram and Srikakulam districts of north Andhra Pradesh and Ganjam, Gajapati, Koraput, Rayagada, Nabarangpur, Malkangiri, Kalahandi, Phulbani districts of south Odisha during next 48 hours, IMD said.

The warning said squally wind speed reaching 50-60 kmph gusting to 70 kmph would prevail along and off north Andhra Pradesh and south Odisha coasts during next 12 hours.

"The wind speed would gradually increase to 170-180 kmph gusting to 195 kmph around the time of landfall along and off north Andhra Pradesh (East Godavari, Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram and Srikakulam districts) and 80-90 kmph along and off adjoining districts of south Andhra Pradesh (West Godavari, Krishna districts) and south Odisha (Ganjam, Gajapati, Koraput and Malkangiri districts).

Sea condition along and off north Andhra Pradesh and south Odisha coasts would be rough to very rough during next 12 hours.

Meanwhile, the National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) met again today under the Chairmanship of Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth and reviewed the preparedness for relief and rescue operations in the wake of the cyclonic storm.

An official statement said all the central agencies are fully geared up to provide necessary assistance to the affected states in case of any eventualities arising out of the landfall of the cyclone expected tomorrow.

A total of 39 NDRF teams comprising more than 1680 rescuers along with 199 inflatable rubber boats and other life saving equipment have been deployed in various parts of Andhra and Odisha to meet any challenges arising due to the cyclonic storm.

IAF helicopters are also on standby to meet any emergent situation, it said.

Malkangiri, which is likely to be among the worst hit areas, is already experiencing heavy rainfall and strong winds. One 'kuchha' house at Gudguta village was damaged as a tree fell on it but there was no report of any casualty from anywhere in the district.

About 3.5 lakh people, including those living in the coast of Ganjam, are being evacuated and the district authorities have been asked to start a free kitchen. The district authorities have also been asked to stock adequate quantities of dryfood, Mohapatra said.

The government has deployed 25 units — 15 of NDRF and 10 of ODRF, each comprising 40 personnel, besides fire service men in vulnerable places in different parts of the state, the SRC said. — PTI