Visakhapatnam: Authorities in coastal Andhra Pradesh began massive evacuation of nearly 400,000 people to safer places as cyclonic storm Hudhud is set to hit the coast Sunday.
The people will be evacuated in five coastal districts, where the impact of the cyclone being felt from Saturday with heavy rains accompanied by squally winds lashing some parts of the region.
The northern coastal districts of Srikakulam, Vijayanagaram and Visakhapatnam and adjoining districts of East Godavari and West Godavari are bracing for the 'very severe' cyclonic storm, which is likely to make a landfall around Visakhapatnam Sunday forenoon.
Officials said 370 relief camps have been opened in five districts, where 396 villages are likely to be affected. In Srikakulam district, 1.85 people will be sheltered in 110 camps. Over 86,000 people will be evacuated in West Godavari district and over 72,000 in East Godavari district.
According to India Meterological Department (IMD) bulletin issued in the afternoon, the cyclone is lying 260 km southeast of Visakhapatnam.
Thirteen teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have been positioned while three more teams are in reserve at Guntur. One team of State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) is positioned at Visakhapatnam.
Chief Secretary I.Y.R. Krisna Rao said the central government has been requested to send another eight NDRF teams.
Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, who reviewed the situation with top officials, urged Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to provide satellite pictures as this will help the state in better planning of rescue and relief operations.
Four naval ships and 10 helicopters of Indian Navy and Indian Air Force (IAF) and 54 boats are ready for rescue and relief operations. As many as 689 swimmers have also been deployed.
Thirty rescue teams of the navy with boat and equipment are ready at Visakhapatnam while one column of navy personnel is moving to Srikakulam.
An army column from Andhra Sub Area is also positioned at Visakhapatnam.
Fifteen satellite phones will be used by the officials monitoring rescue and relief operations.
Visakhapatnam Cyclone Warning Centre has warned of rainfall at most places with heavy to very heavy falls at a few places and isolated extremely heavy falls over West Godavari, East Godavari, Visakhapatnam, Vijayanagaram and Srikakulam districts of north Andhra Pradesh and eight districts of south Odisha during next two days.
Wind speed reaching 50-60 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.
The IMD has also issued storm surge warning. Storm surge would inundate low lying areas of north coastal Andhra.
Visakhapatnam Cyclone Warning Centre has issued agreat danger signal number 10' to the ports in north coastal Andhra including Visakhapatnam port.
Extensive damage to kutcha houses, uprooting of big trees, partial disruption of power and communication lines are expected.
Fishing operations have been suspended along the coast as authorities have warned fishermen against venturing into sea.
The chief secretary said BSNL and other telecom service providers were urged to issue cyclone alerts to people living in coastal areas.
Round the clock control rooms have been opened at Andhra Pradesh secretariat in Hyderabad. The numbers are 040 - 23456005 and 23450419.
Coast Guard, Coastal Security wing, Marine Police, and also superintendents of police were asked to be alert in view of cyclone and assist the district administration.
The government has cancelled leave of all employees and those who were on leave were asked to immediately return.
The district collectors said they have made arrangements to stock fuel, drinking water, food, medicines and other essential commodities for rescue and relief operations.
As a precautionary measure, the railways have cancelled over 60 trains and diverted many others in view of the cyclone.
Authorities have closed Ichapuram-Kakinada national highway for traffic. Kakinada-Uppada highway in East Godavari district was damaged as water gushed out of sea due to high waves inundated the road.