Vishakapatnam/Bhubaneswar: Cyclone Hudhud pounded the coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha with heavy rain and winds of almost 200 kmph today leaving eight people dead and a trail of devastation with Vishakapatnam, where the very severe storm made landfall, bearing the brunt.
A little over four lakh people—about 250,000 in four districts of AP and 156,000 in nine districts of Odisha—were evacuated to relief camps and more will be shifted to safer places depending upon water levels, officials said.
Cyclone Hudhud lost its intensity by evening and its speed was limited to 100-110 kmph and converted from a very severe cyclonic storm to severe storm, the IMD said tonight.
The high velocity winds battered Visakhapatnam, which is home to a Naval base, Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and East Godavari districts throwing normal life out of gear after the cyclone made landfall shortly before noon downing power and communication lines and closing roads and railways.
The port city of Vishakapatnam is without power supply since last night and communication systems have collapsed at many places.
As per preliminary assessment, the death toll was eight -- five in AP (three in Visakhapatnam and one each in Srikakulam and Vizianagaram districts) and three in Odisha, an official statement said, adding that communication services and power and electricity have been “considerably damaged” in the affected districts.
Trees were uprooted and roofs of thatched huts and sheds and hoardings blown away and streets largely wore a deserted look as panic-stricken residents remained indoors.
Transport services came to to a halt in the region.
Flights were also disrupted.
The Railways cancelled 58 trains and diverted 50 trains on the Vizag route in view of the situation, officials said.
According to AP's Revenue (Disaster Management) Department, the cyclone left railway lines in Visakhapatnam badly damaged, besides causing “damage” to the airport there.
A total of 2,48,004 people were “affected” by Hudhud, which also damaged 70 houses, it said.
“Three deaths have been reported due to impact of Hudhud. Two died after trees fell on them and one in collapse of compound-wall in Visakhapatnam and Srikakulam districts, respectively,” AP Chief Secretary I V R Krishna Rao said.
According to Odisha Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) P K Mohapatra, three persons including a minor girl died due to cyclone. Gajapati district is the worst affected, he added.
“There is no report of damage to any major installations,” Mahapatra said.
“The impact is tremendous,” Union Minister Ashok Gajapati Raju, who is an MP from Vizianagaram, said.
In Delhi, IMD Director Laxman Singh Rathore said that as the cyclone was crossing AP coastline the wind speed was 170-180 kmph and gusting up to 195 kmph.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to AP Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu and discussed relief and rescue measures and promised all possible assistance, as NDRF teams were pressed into service.
“The situation is serious,” Naidu said, as he requested the Centre to declare the cyclone a ‘national calamity'.
An official statement said 24 teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel and six helicopters have been deployed for the rescue and relief operations, besides four Army columns.