Cyclone Phailin forces cancellation of most flights to and from Odisha

Bhubaneshwar, Oct.12 : Cyclone Phailin has forced the cancellation of a majority of flights from and to Odisha, the director of the Biju Patnaik Airport, Sarat Kumar, said on Saturday.

"The weather is getting worse due to the cyclone. And for passenger safety, flights will be cancelled till the weather improves. There are almost 20 flights, out of which 15 flights have been cancelled. Permission for landing is subject to weather conditions," he said.

Kumar also said that except relief and rescue operational flights, all other flights have been cancelled, and added that the authorities are fully prepared to counter the severe storm.

"We will decide tonight about tomorrow's schedule. We are completely backed up with all necessary resources. We are prepared to handle the severe storm," he added.

Meanwhile, five army columns from Ranchi have been dispatched to Bhubaneshwar.

Cyclone Phailin, which was touching wind speeds of 210 to 220 kilometers an hour on Friday, is expected to hit the coast of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh at around 6 p.m. on Saturday at an even greater speed.

Cyclone Phailin, which has been put in the category of Very Severe Cyclonic Storm (VSCS), is expected to touch 240 kilometer per hour, when it hits the two states.

Nearly three lakh people have been evacuated in Odisha, and at least 65,000 people have been evacuated in Andhra Pradesh by rescue and relief teams.

Authorities in the two states have warned of extensive damage to crops, village dwellings and old buildings, as well as disruption of power, water and rail services. Shelters were being stocked with rations, and leave for government employees for Dussehra have been cancelled.

--ANI (Posted on 12-10-2013)

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