One lakh people evacuated in coastal Andhra
About one lakh people were evacuated from north coastal Andhra as the cyclonic storm Phailin in the Bay of Bengal was set to hit the eastern coast by Saturday evening.
Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy said one lakh people were moved to relief camps. He appealed to people in low-lying areas to follow the direction of officials and leave their houses.
"We pray to God to save the state from damage," he told reporters as the cyclone moved closer to the coast, triggering heavy rains accompanied by high winds in Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Srikakulam districts.
Officials said the sea was rough and the water had entered coastal villages. In Srikakulam district, 20 villages were inundated.
Reddy said all departments were on alert for rescue and relief work. Ministers and special officers in the coastal districts were monitoring the situation.
The army, navy, air force and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) were ready to take up rescue work. Boats were also kept ready along with wireless sets.
Out of nearly 23,000 fishing boats in the state, only 22 were in the sea. All the fishermen were reported to be safe.
Officials said food and drinking water packets were stored for relief operations. Medical teams along with medicines were deputed to the relief camps.
Authorities hoisted the 10th warning signal at Kalingapatnam and
Bhimunipatnam ports and the eighth warning signal at Visakhapatpam and Gangavaram ports. Fishermen have been warned not to venture into the sea.
The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has forecast heavy to very heavy rains in north coastal Andhra. Gale winds with speeds reaching 70-80 kmph would prevail along the coast.
It would intensify to 100-150 kmph from noon and 210-220 kmph gusting to 235 kmph along and off the coastal districts of north coastal Andhra Pradesh and south Odisha at the time of landfall.
It has also warned that storm surge with a height of 3 to 3.5 metre above astronomical tide would inundate low lying areas of Ganjam, Khurda, Puri and Jagatsinghpur districts of Odisha and Srikakulam of Andhra Pradesh during landfall.
The railways have cancelled all trains in north coastal Andhra including services between Andhra and Odisha. The air services between Visakhapatnam and Bhubaneswar have also been suspended.
(Posted on 12-10-2013)