Phailin wanes; 90 lakh affected, crops worth Rs. 2,400 cr. destroyed

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Bhubaneswar/Gopalpur/Srikakulam, October 13:  Eight persons were killed in Odisha as the very severe cyclonic storm Phailin hit the State’s coast near Gopalpur in Ganjam district at 8.30 p.m. on Saturday, government officials said on Sunday morning.

Lakhs of people were affected by the cyclone that caused major damage in Ganjam and other districts.

According to State Special Relief Commissioner P.K. Mohapatra, two persons each were killed in Ganjam and Khurda, and one each in Jagatsinghpur, Balasore, Jajpur and Puri.

Though lakhs of trees were uprooted in these affected districts, major roads were being cleared by the administration with the help of the personnel of National Disaster Rapid Action Force and Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik was scheduled to review the situation at 11 a.m., Mr. Mohapatra said.

The Special Relief Commissioner informed that the State government may not use the services of the armed forces for airdropping of relief materials.

Mr. Mohapatra said the 18 fishermen who had gone missing off Paradip coast on Saturday had been rescued.

In Bhubaneswar and Cuttack, normal life continued to remain out of gear as the uprooted trees blocked many roads. Many Puja pandals had crashed with the heavy winds that swept the coastal region throughout the night.

The cyclone which had its landfall near Gopalpur at 8.30 pm on Saturday with a speed reaching up to 220 km per hour had moved into the interior parts of Odisha and lay over Boudh district at around 10 am, Mr. Mohapatra added.

Though it was raining at times since morning, the cyclone was likely to fully subside by evening.

Meanwhile, trains services remained cancelled on Howrah-Visakhapatnam route. Bhubaneswar airport was likely to function normally from afternoon.

The State administration had evacuated over 8 lakh people to safer places and that helped save human lives, Mr. Mohapatra said.

Cyclone Phailin on Sunday left a trail of destruction, hitting nearly 90 lakh people, damaging over 2.34 lakh houses and laying waste paddy crop worth about Rs. 2,400 crore as Ganjam district bore the brunt of the very severe storm, the worst in 14 years to hit the Odisha coast.

The cyclone, which packed 220 kmph at landfall on Saturday in Odisha, weakened on Sunday morning and was moving northwards and will settle into a deep depression by the evening. Under its impact, heavy rains lashed parts of Odisha, Bihar, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh.

In Andhra Pradesh, a 60-year-old man died in Bulivadu village of Srikakulam district following heavy downpour unleashed by the severe storm. A 27-year-old fisherman died in his sleep in the early hours on Sunday in a relief camp at Kaviti, a State disaster management official said.

IMD Director-General L.S. Rathore said at noon that the wind speed of the cyclone is now 100 to 110 kmph.

A flood warning has been issued in Bihar as widespread rains are expected in its wake.

Giving details of the devastation caused by the cyclone, Odisha Revenue and Disaster Minister S.N. Patro said in Bhubaneshwar that 14,514 villages in 12 districts have been affected, hitting a population of 8,53,620.

There were no major casualties though Phailin was no less than a super cyclone as large scale evacuation of people to storm shelters prevented casualties which were seen in the 1999 super cyclone that left nearly 10,000 dead.

The Minister said 8,73,646 people have been evacuated.

Over 5 lakh hectares of standing crops have been destroyed by the gushing waters causing an estimated loss of Rs. 2,400 crore, he said.

Extensive damage has also been caused to ‘kutcha’ houses besides partial disruption of power, communication lines and rail and road traffic in various parts of Odisha, particularly in Ganjam district, which faced the storm’s onslaught.

Thousands of trees and poles were uprooted in Bhubaneshwar and several buildings have got weakened in Parampur town, above 20 km from Gopalpur, Mr. Patro said.

In Srikakulam in Andhra Pradesh, relief operations have been launched in full swing as heavy rains coupled with strong winds continue to lash most parts of the coastal areas.

Srikakulam Collector Saurabh Gaur said 39 villages in the cyclone-affected areas are surrounded by water.

A cargo ship, MV Bingo is believed to have sunk in the rough seas caused by Phailin with its crew on a lifeboat last sighted east of Sagar in West Bengal, Kolkata Port Trust chairman RPS Kahlon told PTI in Kolkata.

In Andhra Pradesh, State Disaster Management Commissioner T. Radha told PTI that 19.8 cm rainfall had been recorded at Itchapuram, 15.42 cm at Kaviti, 14.76 cm at Kanchali, 10.8 cm at Kothabommali and 10.7 cm at Sompeta in Srikakulam district, which have borne the brunt of the cyclone.

“The sky is clear. We are cutting uprooted trees to clear traffic. Everything is normal and peaceful,” Radha said.

Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy reviewed the situation with Chief Secretary P.K. Mohanty on Sunday morning and asked the administration to focus on speedy rescue and relief measures, particularly in Srikakulam district.

Prashant Dar, Commandant, National Disaster Relief Force, said people, who have been given shelter in relief camps, have been provided with food, medicine and other essential material.

The teams of NDRF, which is tasked to minimize the loss on all fronts, intensified their operations since morning while the Indian Navy has also been put on alert.

“We have started rescue operations since 6 am as the weather relented a bit. We have received reports the 110 people stranded in two locations where our teams are on their way to rescue them,” he said.

Hundreds of trees have been uprooted in cyclone-affected areas and fell on road causing traffic disruption. NDRF personnel are trying to remove blockades to clear the way.

As a precautionary measure, power supply to some parts of the district was stopped as tens of electrical poles in those areas collapsed.

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