New Delhi, Oct 12: A very severe cyclonic storm Hudhud closing in on Andhra Pradesh and Odisha is likely to make landfall earlier than expected. The severe cyclonic is set to hit Visakhapatnam district in Andhra Pradesh on Sunday between 10.30-11.30 am with a windspeed of nearly 180 kilometres per hour or kmph, said the India Meteorological Department (IMD).
Post landfall, the cyclone is likely to persist for around six hours and will be at its severity around noon time. Tt will subsequently weaken over the next six hours and move towards Odisha and Chhattisgarh.
According to reports, the efforts have been to shift around 5 lakh people in Andhra, mostly from Srikakulam and East Godavari, to 370 relief camps that have been set up. Over 1.1 lakh people have already been moved to safer places by Saturday.
A day before the arrival of the severe cyclone in Odisha, the state bore the look of a war zone with roads deserted, educational institutions closed, and trains and flights cancelled.
As the ‘very severe cyclonic storm’ reached nearly 300km off Gopalpur coast, preceded by heavy rain and wind, the government reportedly began evacuating people from seaside villages and areas prone to landslides. Nearly, 10,000 people have been evacuated to cyclone shelters. Ganjam district, which was severely damaged by cyclone Phailin on October 12 last year, accounted for most of them.
Though the IMD bulletin said Hudhud’s impact would be limited to more rain and wind below 100kmph in southern Odisha, the state government is unwilling to take a chance. People were alerted through text messages to stay home on Sunday when all public and private transport services would stay off the roads.
The Howrah-Chennai NH-5 will be closed beyond Berhampur towards Andhra Pradesh from Sunday morning.
The railways too have announced cancellation of as many as 58 trains and diverted over 50 others. The East Coast Railway (ECoR) said it would not allow a single passenger train to run between Bhubaneswar and Visakhapatnam from 6am onwards on Sunday till the Hudhud danger is over.
According to reports, Odisha Chief secretary Gokul Chandra Pati and special relief commissioner (SRC) Pradipta Mohapatra said the government has made ‘elaborate arrangements to ensure zero casualties’ due to Hudhud.
They are working in close coordination with the Andhra Pradesh government on the matter, an official source said.
On Saturday late evening, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a high-level emergency meeting to review the preparedness for cyclone Hudhud. He asked the officials to ensure that rescue and relief operations are conducted smoothly and people are informed about the cyclone on a real-time basis.
After reviewing the emerging situation, the Prime Minister asked the Home Minister to remain in touch with Chief Ministers of the states likely to be affected by the cyclone.
He also instructed senior officers of the Union Government to maintain close contact and coordination with officers of the affected states, to ensure that relief and rescue operations proceed smoothly.
The meeting was attended by the Cabinet Secretary, the Principal Secretary to the PM, the Additional Principal Secretary to the PM, the Home Secretary, the Defence Secretary, and other senior officials from the IMD and PMO.
Modi was briefed on evacuation and other precautionary and preparatory measures being undertaken for coping with the cyclone.
As many as 37 trains originating from port city Visakhapatnam and eastern city Bhubaneshwar or going through either of them have been cancelled for Sunday when the Cyclone Hudhud is expected to hit land around the key port city in Andhra Pradesh.
Help lines have been set up at various railway stations and emergency and controlling staff have been deployed to meet any contingency. The railways will also coordinate with the state government and National Disaster Relief Force, if need be.
The National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) met under the Chairmanship of the Cabinet Secretary on Saturday morning and reviewed the preparedness for relief and rescue operations.
All the central agencies are fully geared up to provide necessary assistance to these States in case of any eventualities arising out of the landfall of the cyclone expected tomorrow.
Armed Forces is also geared up to face the likely effects of approaching cyclone ‘Hudhud’ slowly developing in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh coast. The Indian Air Force helicopters are also on standby to meet any emergent situation.
(Goindianews Bureau/Agency Inputs)