Vishakapatnam: Severe cyclonic storm Hudhud hit the port city of Vishakapatnam today bringing with it torrential rains in three coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh and leaving five persons dead in the state and neighbouring Odisha besides snapping power and communication lines. Normal life was thrown completely out of gear as winds with a speed of 170 to 180 kmph battered Visakhapatnam, Srikakulam and Vizianagaram districts.
The very severe cyclonic storm made landfall in Visakhapatnam before noon. The gale, accompanied by heavy downpour, resulted in trees being uprooted and roofs of thatched huts and sheds being swept away. While authorities in Andhra Pradesh evacuated 90,013 people across the four districts of Srikakulam, Vizianagaram, Visakhaptnam and East Godavari, about 68,000 people were evacuated from coastal districts of Odisha.
In Delhi, IMD Director General Laxman Singh Rathore said that “Due to the hilly topography, the cyclone's intensity will reduce in next six hours and further reduce in next 12 hours. However, the area (Vizag) will experience heavy to very heavy rainfall for the next three days.”
As the storm progresses, it will bring heavy rainfall to very heavy rainfall in Chhatisgarh, Bihar, East Madhya Pradesh and East UP and Gangetic belt of West Bengal. “We are in touch with the chief secretaries of these state governments and providing with bulletins. Warnings have also been issued to shift crops which have been harvested to minimise the impact of heavy rains in these areas,” Rathore said.
Aircraft services will be able to operate from tomorrow morning as the weather is expected to improve. “The PMO is monitoring the situation arising out of the cyclone at regular intervals,” he said.
While three persons were killed in rain-related incidents in Andhra Pradesh, two were killed in Odisha. “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. Casualty in cyclone Hudhud rose to two in Odisha.
A fisherman was caught in the sea current amid a tidal surge while he was trying to save his fishing boat anchored in the coast of Puri, Special Relief Commissioner P K Mohapatra said. Yesterday, a nine-year-old girl drowned when a boat engaged in evacuation of the people in Satbhaya area of Kendrapara district capsized in the Baunsagadi rivulet.
Union Cabinet Secretary Ajit Kumar Seth said the Prime Minister was concerned not only about AP and Odisha but also wanted other states, which could face heavy rains minus the cyclone, to be alerted.
“We have done that,” Seth said, adding that while the Prime Minister reviewed the situation last night, he himself has been reviewing the situation closely and holding meetings with Chief Secretaries of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha twice daily.
Seth advised residents of cyclone-hit Vizag to exercise caution till the second phase of the high wind is over even as he lauded the efforts of the central agencies and state government in meeting the challenge.
He said once the initial brunt has been taken at the time of the landfall of the cyclone, there is a lull as the centre or eye of the storm passes but thereafter the wind speed is going to pick up again and it is going to be the same as was when it hit the coast first.
Seth said the government does not have the total estimate of the damage caused due to the cyclone as yet. “State government, central agencies are on their job. They have done their job. The Army, the Navy and all other agencies are already there.
“Both the governments were well-prepared. We have been reviewing the situation with them... They have got their act together. They have taken necessary precautions and alerted the local population,” Seth said.
The NDRF has doubled the strength of its teams stationed in Vishakapatnam to 13 in order to undertake swift relief and rescue operations.
“We have increased our teams to 13 in Vizag after the landfall occurred. Earlier there were six teams stationed here,” National Disaster Response Force chief O P Singh told PTI.
In Bhubaneswar, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said the cyclone had its impact in different districts like Ganjam, Gajapati, Koraput, Puri, Kalahandi and Kendrapara. 68,000 people have been evacuated to safe places, the chief minister said, directing the officials to continue the evacuation of people from vulnerable areas as the complete impact of the cyclone would be felt some hours after the landfall.
The affected people have been accommodated in 604 shelter homes, Patnaik said, adding the state government was prepared to face the situation caused by the cyclone and possible floods thereafter.
Under the impact of the cyclone, the entire coastal and southern region experienced moderate to heavy rainfall since early morning though the maximum wind speed was below 60 kmph. However, the weather office predicted an increase in the wind speed in eight southern districts.
The state government has identified the eight districts of Ganjam, Gajapati, Malkangiri, Koraput, Rayagada, Nabarangpur, Kandhamal and Kalahandi which will bear the maximum brunt of the cyclone.