Gopalpur/Srikakulam: Cyclone Phailin, being described as possibly the biggest cyclone ever to hit India, has triggered India's biggest evacuation programme in 23 years, reports said today.
Over 5 lakh people have been evacuated from Odisha and Andhra Pradesh, the Home Secretary said today.
"Our main focus is to avoid loss of human life. So far we have evacuated 4.25 lakh people in Odisha and 1 lakh more in Andhra Pradesh," Union Home Secretary Anil Goswami told reporters.
Most of the evacuated people have been sheltered in 500 specially-built cyclone camps in the two states. Each cyclone shelter can accommodate up to 1,500 people while their ground floors may be used as cattle shelters.
Official sources said authorities have switched off power supply along the Odisha coastline and in three coastal districts in Andhra Pradesh.
In Odisha, the normal power consumption is around 2,800MW but, due ,to the power cut, it had come down to 1,300MW.
In Andhra Pradesh, against a normal usage of around 9,700 MW, the suspension in transmission had brought consumption down to 9,200MW.
Sources said the impact of cyclone 'Phailin' would be highest during the night and gradually come down from dawn.
"We expect that the impact will be over in 18 hours, beginning 6 pm today," sources said.
The National Disaster Management Authority said it had deployed nearly 2,000 National Disaster Response Force personnel in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal. A total of 29 NDRF teams have been deployed along with rescue equipment in Odisha.
In Andhra Pradesh, 15 teams are in place while four additional teams are being rushed from Tamil Nadu. Seven teams have been deployed in West Bengal.
The teams are equipped with satellite phones and wireless sets to maintain communication in case the normal lines are affected due in the cyclone.