Helen claims four lives

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Hyderabad, November 22:  At least four persons were killed and standing paddy crop in over 1.5 lakh acres destroyed as the severe cyclonic storm, Helen, hit the coast close to south of Machilipatnam on Friday afternoon.

Two deaths each were reported from W. Godavari and Krishna districts. In West Godavari, Penumantra tehsildar G. Satyanarayana (52) reportedly lost control of his vehicle following gales and hit a tree while driving to office from his native village of Batlamogalturu. In the other incident, one Bhaskar Rao was crushed to death when an uprooted tree fell on him.

In Krishna, two persons were crushed to death when a tree and an electric pole fell on them in separate incidents at Kruthvennu and Machilipatnam rural.

Disaster Management Commissioner C. Parthasarathi, however, maintained that only two persons had died in cyclone-related incidents (both in Krishna district). He said over 20,000 people were shifted to 79 relief camps from 346 habitations in Krishna, Guntur, East and West Godavari and Prakasam districts.

He said standing paddy crop ready for harvest in Narsapuram Division of West Godavari, coconut and banana plantations in Amalapuram Revenue Division in East Godavari had suffered extensive damage.

Initial reports said paddy crop in about one lakh acres was damaged in West Godavari districts alone. This was apart from the crop loss in Srikakulam and Visakhapatnam districts.

Three boats with 20 fishermen, which were stranded near the Kothapalli light house in East Godavari district, were located and brought to safety by the Coast Guard and district administration officials.

Nellore and Ongole, which were originally predicted to be in the path of the cyclone, escaped its fury, with the storm changing the course twice. Krishna and West and East Godavari districts suffered the maximum impact compared to Visakhapatnam and Guntur districts. Collectors of all coastal districts were directed to be alert as heavy rain was predicted for the next 48 hours.

According to a bulletin issued by the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), the cyclonic storm moved west-southwestward and weakened into a deep depression. It will further weaken into a depression. During the next 24 hours, isolated heavy to very heavy rainfall will occur over north coastal AP and adjoining Guntur, Krishna and West Godavari districts. There will be isolated heavy rainfall in Telangana during the next 24 hours.

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