Visakhapatnam/Hyderabad: Bracing for cyclone Hudhud, which is currently on course to hit the Visakhapatnam coast by forenoon tomorrow, the state government evacuated tens of thousands of people from low-lying areas of coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh.
As many as 24,000 people were shifted from Visakhapatnam district, 15,000 from Vizianagaram and 46,000 from Srikakulam and 160 from East Godavari district so far, special commissioner, state disaster management authority, K Hymavathi said on Saturday.
She said that 146 cyclone relief shelters have been opened in the coastal districts.
National Disaster Response Force has deployed 19 teams (each comprising 45 to 50 members) to undertake rescue and relief missions.
In addition, a large number of Army personnel have also been kept ready in Visakhapatnam.
In Srikakulam, sea conditions were rough this morning. Met department has warned that extensive damage to ‘kutcha’ houses, uprooting of big trees and partial disruption of power and communication lines and minor disruption of rail and road traffic are expected.
“The government machinery is ready to face the cyclonic storm,” said deputy chief minister K E Krishna Murthy.
Eastern Naval Command of the Indian Navy too is ready to help with four ships on stand-by. These ships have been equipped with additional divers, doctors, inflatable rubber boats, integral helicopters and relief material including food, tentage, clothes, medicines, blankets etc, in quantities sufficient to sustain over 5,000 persons, Navy sources said.
Six aircraft are standing by at the Naval Air Station INS Dega to undertake reconnaissance, rescue, casualty evacuation and air drop of relief materials.
Additionally, 30 diving teams and four platoons with additional relief material are ready to be pressed into action at short notice, sources said.
Meteorological department officials said a very severe cyclonic storm is now lying within the range of Doppler weather radar at Visakhapatnam and it was tracking it since early morning, in addition to tracking through satellite and other observational tools.
According to latest observation, the cyclonic storm over west central Bay of Bengal moved west north-westwards during the past six hours and lay centred at 0530 hrs IST on Saturday about 330 km southeast of Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh and 380 km south-southeast of Gopalpur in Odisha.
The system would move west-northwestwards for some more time. It would then move northwestwards and cross north Andhra Pradesh coast around Visakhapatnam by Sunday forenoon. Under the influence of the system, rainfall, at most places heavy (6.5 – 12.4 cm) to very heavy (12.5 – 24.4 cm) at
a few places and isolated extremely heavy (24.5 cm) would occur over west & east Godavari, Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram and Srikakulam districts of north Andhra Pradesh and Ganjam, Gajapati, Koraput, Rayagada, Nabarangpur, Malkangiri, Kalahandi and Phulbani districts of south Odisha during the next 48 hours, Met department said.
Rainfall would also occur at most places, with heavy to very heavy rainfall at isolated places, over Krishna, Guntur and Prakasham districts of Andhra Pradesh and north coastal Odisha during the same period.
Squally winds, with speed reaching 50-60 kmph and gusting to 70 kmph at some places would prevail along and off north Andhra Pradesh and south Odisha coasts during the next 12 hours.
The wind speed would gradually increase to 140-150 kmph gusting to 165 kmph around the time of landfall along & off north Andhra Pradesh (East Godavari, Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram and Srikakulam districts) and 80-90 kmph along and off adjoining districts of south Andhra Pradesh (West Godavari, Krishna districts) and south Odisha (Ganjam, Gajapati, Koraput and Malkangiri districts).
Meanwhile, South Central Railway (SCR) has announced the cancellation and diversion of several express and passenger trains due to the cyclone threat, a senior official said.
“About 28 express trains have been cancelled, 13 trains diverted (total 43 express trains) and 12 passenger trains have been cancelled. One train has been partially cancelled due to the prevailing cyclone situation in the district,” South Central Railway’s (Vijaywada) Divisional Manager Pradeep Kumar.
The express trains cancelled include Tirupati-Puri-Secunderabad, Tirupati-Visakhapatnam, Secunderabad-Visakhapatnam, Bhubaneswar-Tirupati, Bhubaneswar-Secunderabad, Visakhapatam-Nizamabad and other trains.
Partially cancelled express trains are Secunderabad-Visakhapatnam and Visakhapatnam-Secunderabad while diverted express trains incude Secunderabad-Howrah, Howrah-Chennai and Howrah-Yeshwantpur.
Several flights to and from Visakhapatnam has been cancelled for the day. The ‘very severe’ cyclone is now 330 km away off Visakhapatnam coast.
Met officials said there has been no change in the cyclone’s track and is steadily heading towards Visakhapatnam.
Flights to Bhubaneswar, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Kolkata have been cancelled as heavy gales have already started engulfing Visakhapatnam city from Friday night.
Sea condition turned rough. Many beaches have witnessed gigantic waves reaching almost close to the nearby road. A high rise wall at Visakhapatnam fishing harbour has collapsed due to strong waves. The same wall was damaged when cyclone Phalin hit the shore and was reconstructed earlier this year.
Restrictions have been imposed on vehicular movement ong the 350 km long National Highway 16 from Itchapuram in Srikakulam to Payakaraopeta in Visakhapatnam district from Saturday evening to Sunday morning. Only emergency vehicles, ambulances and cyclone relief vehicles are allowed on the highway.