Cyclone Phailin: Normalcy 'soon', assures Odisha CM

Bhubaneswar, Oct. 13 : Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Sunday commended the coordinated efforts of state officials and civil society to minimize the damage in the light of Cyclone Phailin, and assured that his government would start the comprehensive rehabilitation process so that normalcy returns to the state 'soon'.

"The impact of the cyclone will, of course, die down with the passage of time. Normalcy will come back soon," Patnaik said here.

"Our primary responsibility was to protect the valuable lives of our citizens. I think we have been successful in minimizing the loss of precious lives. Now, rehabilitation is really a big challenge for us as properties to the tune of several crores of rupees have been lost in the cyclone. I will see to it how soon we can get people rehabilitated," he added.

Complimenting the relief efforts of the people in the state, Patnaik added that the media had a key role to play in dissemination objective information across the public.

"As you know, we faced a very severe cyclonic storm in the state yesterday. I had requested you to cooperate with the efforts of the state government in this hour of tribulation, without panicking. I thank all of you for honouring my request. With your cooperation, we have successfully evacuated almost nine lakh people and minimized loss of human life during the cyclone," he said.

"I also thank the government employees for their selfless service during this hour. The media has a key role during natural disasters. I am really happy that both the print and electronic media have effectively informed the public, and made them aware of the situation. I am also thankful for the members of civil society for coming forward to join hands with us with dedication," he added.

Patnaik further lauded the evacuation efforts in the wake of the natural disaster and said that it was one of the largest evacuation operations in the entire country.

Earlier today, in the latest update on Very Severe Cyclonic Storm (VSCS) Phailin, Director General of the Indian Meteorological Department, L.S. Rathore, said that the natural disaster had not caused any loss of life since the landfall on Saturday evening and complimented the media for its role during the hours of crisis.

"There seems to be a zero loss of life as was targeted to combat this Very Severe Cyclonic Storm. I would like to place on record great sense of participation and objective reporting by both electronic and print media of this country. It has really helped greatly for wider and accurate information dissemination to all stakeholders, including public at large," Rathore said in New Delhi earlier today.

Updating the track of Cyclone Phailin, Rathore also said that presently it is a Serious Cyclonic Storm, which is expected to calm down into a cyclone by the evening.

"The system is moving in a northwestward direction till noon. By evening it will become cyclonic storm. By late evening it will become deep depression, and will remain as depression through the night and tomorrow," Rathore said.

Meanwhile, the MeT has issued a warning to Bihar as it is likely that the rivers running into Bihar will overflow and cause disruption in the state.

The landfall took place at around 9.15 p.m. on Saturday night and the impact of the cyclone lasted for over seven hours before it moved in a north-northwesterly direction.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has been briefed by Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth about the impact of Cyclone Phailin and his office is continuously monitoring the situation arising out of it.

Dr. Singh has directed that all possible assistance should be extended to the two state governments concerned in ensuring the safety and security of the people and in relief and rescue operations.

Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said Saturday that at least eight districts of Odisha had faced the brunt of the cyclone, while three districts of Andhra Pradesh namely Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam were affected.

About 26 National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams have been deployed in Odisha, along with three on standby. In Andhra Pradesh, there are 15 teams of the NDRF, with additional two on standby.

The Army has deployed an engineering task force, six composite relief units, four columns in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh. The Air Force, on its part, has put in place frontline C-17 Globemasters, C-130 J Super Hercules and IL-76 transport planes to Odisha to carry out relief operations. The Indian Air Force can move into the affected areas by Sunday afternoon to speed up the relief operations. Strong winds blowing currently do not permit air operations.

The Eastern Naval Command of the Indian Navy has assumed the highest degree of readiness to render all necessary humanitarian assistance.

Two Indian Naval ships, including the Landing Platform Dock INS Jalashwa are standing by to proceed with dispatch to the most affected areas of Odisha in the cyclone's aftermath.

INS Jalashwa, the second largest combatant of the Indian Navy, is ideally equipped to undertake Humanitarian Aid Distress Relief (HADR), evacuation, logistic support and hospital ship operations.

Both the ships are poised with additional divers, doctors, inflatable rubber boats, integral helicopters and relief material that include food, tentage, clothes, medicines, blankets etc, in quantities sufficient to sustain over 5000 personnel for three days.

Six advance diving teams with inflatable boats, rescue material and satellite communication have left for Odisha by road and will operate from INS Chilka, 50 km north of Gopalapatnam, where the cyclone is expected to make landfall.

These personnel will be assisted by four platoons from the local naval station and doctors from INHS Nivarini in their rescue and relief efforts.

The Eastern Naval Command is monitoring the developments closely and is in constant communication with the state administration to augment rescue and relief operations.

Six helicopters are standing by at the Naval Air Station INS Dega to undertake reconnaissance, rescue, casualty evacuation and air drop of relief material to the stranded.

Additionally, the telecom department has also prepared itself to ensure that communication links are stable during the expected disaster.

--ANI (Posted on 14-10-2013)

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