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Cyclone Hudhud hits Andhra, Odisha coastal districts, kills six, loses intensity

VIASHAKAPATNAM: Cyclone Hudhud hits the coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha with heavy rain and winds of almost 200 kmph on Sunday killing six people and left a trail of destruction in Vishakapatnam, where the very severe storm made the landfall.

Over four lakh people – about 2,50,000 in AP and nearly 1.56 lakh in Odisha – were evacuated and tens of thousands of people were still being taken to safe places and housed in special shelters, officials said.

High velocity winds battered Visakhapatnam, which is home to a Naval base, Srikakulam and Vizianagaram districts throwing normal life out of gear after the cyclone made landfall shortly before noon downing power and communications lines and closing roads and railways.

Trees were uprooted and roofs of thatched huts and sheds and hoardings blown away. Transport services came to a halt in the region. Dozens of trains were either cancelled or diverted and flights in the region were also disrupted.

Streets largely wore a deserted look as panic-stricken residents remained indoors.

According to Andhra Pradesh’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 and left 34 animals dead, it said. Three people were killed in rain-related incidents in AP while three persons lost their lives in Odisha. “The impact is tremendous,” Union Minister Ashok Gajapati Raju 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 IVR Krishna Rao said.

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 PK Mohapatra 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. Cyclone Hudhud lost its intensity by evening as it moved further 60 km northwest of Visakhapatnam, the IMD said.

Hudhud, which was so far a very severe cyclonic storm has now converted into a severe cyclone and its speed is now limited to 100-110 kmph, said M Mohapatra, Scientist at the Cyclone Warning Division of IMD.

“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,” Rathore said earlier in the day.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu and discussed relief and rescue measures and promised all possible assistance.

“Communication has totally collapsed...power and telecommunication. We are working on rescue. Our administration, so far as possible, wherever they can reach they are reaching,” Naidu told reporters in Hyderabad.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said the cyclone had its impact in different districts like Ganjam, Gajapati, Koraput, Puri, Kalahandi and Kendrapara.

As the storm progresses, it will bring heavy rainfall to very heavy rainfall in Chhattisgarh, Bihar, East Madhya Pradesh and East UP and Gangetic belt of West Bengal, he said.

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.

Twenty-four NDRF (National Disaster Response Force) teams (each comprising 45-50 members) are on duty on the Andhra coast, including three that are on the way.

Six helicopters have been positioned in the Naval base here while two Army columns are also stationed in Vishakapatnam and at Srikakulam with power boats and other equipment for rescue and relief operations. In addition, 56 boats and launches have been deployed.

The deceased in Odisha have been identified as Puja Mallick (6) and Hemant Mallick (11) of Magarkanda village in Kendrapara district and 42-year-old fisherman Sudulu Goraya of Penthakata in Puri district, Mohapatra said.

With IMD having predicted that the system would move to Chhattisgarh, Odisha government apprehend flow of floodwater into the Hirakud reservoir. The state government is maintaining a water level of 625-ft at the dam against its reservoir level of 630-ft.

Meanwhile, IMD’s latest bulletin said that rain and thundershowers would occur at most places in Odisha in the next 48 hours. “Heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places with extremely heavy rainfall (is likely) at one or two places over the districts of Malkangiri, Koraput, Rayagada, Nawarangpur, Ganjam, Gajpati, Kalahandi, Nayagarh, Khurda, Puri, Nawapara, Boudh, Bolangir, Sonepur and Phulbani of south Odisha during next 24 hours,” it said.