"As of now, we have adopted the strategy of canceling the trains wherever it is necessary to do so. We have as of now cancelled 56 trains, which include 17 mail and express trains also. And there are around 16 diversions. There are around four to five partially cancelled trains and there are certain trains where we have short terminated them," said Director of Public Relations for Railways Anil Saxena.
"The necessary items like food, medicine, drinking water etc they have been made available at the vantage places. Our medical trains, accident-relief trains they all have been kept on standby," he added.
Railways Minister Mallikarjun Kharge has given instructions to his men to take care of the passengers and to ensure safety and minimum inconvenience to the people.
"The honourable Railway Minister has been apprised of the situation. He has also given instructions to take care of the passengers and to ensure safety and minimum inconvenience to the people," said Saxena.
The Director of Public Relations for Railways further informed that this cyclone is likely to affect our three Railway zones, namely the East Coast Railway which is headquartered at Bhubaneswar, South Central Railway which is headquartered at Vijayawada and South Eastern Railway which is headquartered at Kolkata.
"So, we have geared up our machinery there, we have activated our emergency control. The General Managers of these three zonal Railways are personally monitoring and supervising the situation at these three zones. At the Railway Board-level also, our punctuality and control has been activated," he said.
Director General of the MET Department, L.S. Rathore, earlier in the day said the disaster would continue to have an impact in the affected regions for at least 24 hours after the cyclone hits the coasts of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh.
Rathore, who gave an update of the cyclonic storm Phailin, also confirmed that there was no scope of the cyclone weakening prior to the landfall hit.
"After it hits, Phailin will continue for six hours as a Very Severe Cyclonic Storm, six hours as Cyclonic Storm, and then another 12 hours as a depression and move northwestwards. So, the total (impact) will last for 24 hours," Rathore said.
"Both intensity of wind and rainfall will increase as the day progresses....The storm surge is expected to have a height of 3 to 3.5 metre. ...It will not weaken before it crosses the coast," he confirmed.
Apart from the storm striking Odisha and Andhra Pradesh, its impact is expected to be felt in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Gangetic West Bengal, Bihar and Eastern Uttar Pradesh, where heavy to very heavy rainfall is likely.
As per the latest reports, cyclonic storm Phailin is closing in towards coastal Odisha and Andhra Pradesh at wind speeds averaging 200-210 km per hour and is expected to hit the two states between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. today.
Massive evacuation operations have been taking place since yesterday evening, and the MET Department has confirmed that the process is almost complete in an attempt to minimize damage.
Nearly three lakh people have been evacuated in Odisha. More than one lakh people from the north coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh are being evacuated from the vulnerable areas on the path of the cyclone.
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)