HYDERABAD/VISAKHAPATNAM: The severity of destruction caused by Cyclone Hudhud emerged a day after it ravaged coastal Andhra Pradesh with human fatalities reaching a grim 22 on Monday. Fifteen people were killed in Visakhapatnam, six in Vizianagaram and one in Srikakulam, said government spokesman Parakala Prabhakar, adding that more than 6,600 houses were destroyed and 1,780 animals had perished.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will survey the cyclone-affected districts on Tuesday from air after meeting chief minister Chandrababu Naidu and is expected to reach Visakhapatnam in the afternoon. He’ll be confronted with a dreadful sight, of buildings with their frontages knocked out as if pounded by mortars, and rubble strewn all over the roads.
Trees, electricity and telephone poles have been flattened all over. Hospitals are packed with people seeking refuge and essentials like food and water, apart from a sliver of power to charge their phones. There are long queues of anxious people outside groceries, milk booths and petrol pumps, with many complaining of fleecing by vendors who are charging up to Rs 80 for a litre of milk and other essential commodities. It forced Naidu to appeal to retailers to stop swindling the cyclone-ravaged citizens and charge only MRP. But no one apparently listened.
A10-litre can of drinking water sold for Rs 2,500 even as petrol pumps rationed one litre per customer. Krishna Rao of Maddilapalem said: “Shopkeepers have increased prices. Overnight the cost of milk has shot up to Rs 60-80 per litre.” Meanwhile, shoplifters ripped off stuff from many shops gone as the wares stood exposed.
As communication networks struggled to get back online in the face of power outage, many areas went without connectivity for the second day running. Sources said it might take a couple of days for power supply to be restored, prolonging the agony for the people of Vizag.
Daily costs shoot up
Satish Kumar complained about vegetable prices. “The prices of onions and tomatoes have doubled. From Rs 25 per kg to Rs 50.” After being confined indoors for over 24 hours, hungry and thirsty Vizagites made a dash for instant noodles, milk powder, bread, eggs and even fish, but even if they had the money, most of stuff was sold out in seconds.
Roadside eateries too charged exorbitantly, with a plate of tomato rice, which used to cost around Rs 25 on normal days, being sold for Rs 50. But those who could pay for these were lucky. There were many who saw their pockets run dry with ATMs across the city drying up either due to lack of electricity or cash crunch.
Autorickshaws too robbed Vizagites. “It costs Rs 20 to go from Chinawaltair to Siripuram or Rs 7 in a shared auto. But I had to pay Rs 40 for the same ride today,” said Janardhan Reddy. As stocks of diesel dried up and petrol grew scarce, a large number of vehicles, especially two-wheelers, were stranded on the NH-16 due to the fuel shortage as only 30 of the 50-odd bunks in the city remained open and they too restricted sale to a litre per motorist.
Shoplifters feast on Hudhud aftermath
Some see opportunity even in tragedy. Even as Vizag struggled to come to terms with unprecedented damage wreaked by Cyclone Hudhud, there were some who seized the opportunity to ransack shops and malls under the cover of darkness as the buildings were rendered defenceless.
As a majority of the commercial buildings located in areas such as Asilmetta, Sampath Vinayaka temple Road, Maddilapalem and Muralinagar were damaged by gusty winds on Sunday, many reports of shop-lifters running riot under the cover of darkness have come to light on Monday.
According to a resident of Dwarakanagar, several people ventured into a mall at RTC Complex-Railway Station Road and took away a large number of items including food packets, groceries and even costly electronic goods such as LED TVs.
-Times of india