Phailin hits Odisha

Phailin hits Odisha
Highlights

Phailin Hits Odisha, Cyclone Phailin, Phailin in Odisha, NDMA. The monster Cyclone Phailin made its landfall, slamming hard into the coast near Gopalpur in Ganjam district of Odisha just around 9 pm on Saturday

Landfall near Gopalpur around 9pm

Cyclone lands at Bhendi in Srikakulam district of AP

  • Heavy rains, 200 kmph gale along Odisha, AP coasts
  • Cyclone effect to last more than 6 hours until dawn
  • Extent of distruction will be known only today
  • Power and communication services severely disrupted

The monster Cyclone Phailin made its landfall, slamming hard into the coast near Gopalpur in Ganjam district of Odisha just around 9 pm on Saturday. With gusty winds of over 200 kmph, the Cyclone – described as a very severe one by the IMD and rated as Super Cyclone by some foreign agencies – started unleashing its destructive potential late Saturday evening.

The worst-ever calamity experienced in India in over two decades, it swept the east coast with strong winds which would only attain greater speeds as each hour passes for the next six hours, said IMD Director General L S Rathore in New Delhi. He noted the severity of the cylone, yet not calling it a super cyclone, though it prompted the country's biggest evacuation in 23 years with over 8 lakh people __ 7 lakh in Odisha and 1 lakh in Andhra Pradesh __ being shifted from the coastline to safer places. He said the storm surge was about 3 to 3.5 metres high and reports of heavy to very heavy rainfall began to pour in from Odisha and north coastal Andhra Pradesh.

Reports reaching here said that on its landfall, the cyclone left hundreds of towers of power distribution networks and mobile phone networks twisted and mangled while giant trees crashed to the ground across the coastal road network under the impact of the high velocity winds.

Many towns in the north coastal Andhra Pradesh including Ichapuram and Baruva in Srikakulam district and Berhampur and Gopalpur in Ganjam district of Orissa plunged into darkness. Extensive damage was caused to the kutcha structures in the villages all along the sea coast in both Srikakulam and Ganjam districts. Eight persons were killed so far in the cyclone related incidents in Odisha.

It also resulted in disruption of rail and road traffic. Heavy rains being experienced by the coastal regions in both Andhra Pradesh and Orissa are likely to result in floods in the next 48 hours.

The storm surge with height of 3.0 to 3.5 metre above astronomical tide were triggered by cyclone thus adding to the turbulence of the sea. It began to inundate low lying areas of Ganjam, Khurda, Puri and Jagatsinghpur districts of Odisha and Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh.

Demonstrating their disaster preparedness, the State governments of both Andhra Pradesh and Odisha took up the biggest-ever evacuation exercise by shifting over half a million people to safer places and cyclone shelters.

While Andhra Pradesh pressed its entire official machinery into service for evacuating more than a lakh people, the Government of Odisha could shift five times more from the affected places on the sea coast well before the cyclone could hit coast.

"Our main focus is to avoid loss of human life. So far we have evacuated 4.25 lakh people in Odisha and 1 lakh more in Andhra Pradesh," Union Home Secretary Anil Goswami told reporters in Delhi.

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) said it had deployed nearly 2,000 National Disaster Response Force personnel in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal.Five lakh tonnes of foodgrains has been kept ready for distribution to the people in the affected region.

Eighteen helicopters, 12 aircraft and two war ships have been kept ready by the government for rescue and relief operations in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh which are facing the brunt of cyclone 'Phailin'.

Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said the Indian Air Force choppers and aircraft and the two navy ships are placed in close proximity of the eastern coastline and would be deployed for rescue and relief operations.

In a statement, the India Meteorological Department said Phailin was packing winds of between 210 kph (130 mph) and 220 kph (137 mph) and was expected to cause a 3.4-m (11-foot) surge in sea levels when it hit the coast. The weather department warned against extensive damage to mud houses, the major disruption of power and communication lines, and the flooding of rail tracks as well as escape routes set up to flee disasters, with flying debris another threat.

Heavy rains left lush green fields sodden with water along the Andhra Pradesh coast. "We are ready to evacuate," said Jagdesh Dasari, 35, the wiry-haired chief of the fishing village of Mogadhalupadu, which has 2,500 residents, as the rain sheeted down.In neighbouring Odisha state, Muslims and Hindus flocked to mosques and temples to pray Phailin would not wreak the kind of havoc left by a similar storm 14 years ago that killed 10,000 people.

In the first death reported before the storm made landfall, a 40-year-old woman in the state capital, Bhubaneswar, was killed when a tree uprooted by the heavy rain fell on her early on Saturday.

Armed forces in Odisha deployed

"The wind speed is picking up," said Pradeep Kumar Mohapatra, the state's special relief commissioner. "Some people were earlier reluctant to move. They are willing now."

Families trekked through the rain to shelters as gusts of wind snapped branches from trees. Tourists left Puri, a popular beach resort. Officials broadcast cyclone warnings through loudspeakers, radio and television.

London-based Tropical Storm Risk classed the storm in Category 5 - the strongest such rating. The US Navy's weather service said wind at sea was gusting at 314 kph.

Some forecasters likened the cyclone's size and intensity to hurricane Katrina, which tore through the US Gulf coast and New Orleans in 2005. It also evoked memories of an Indian storm in 1999, when winds reaching speeds of 300 kph battered Odisha for 30 hours.

This time, however, the Odisha government said it was better prepared. Half a million people are expected to shelter in schools and other strong buildings when the storm hits, officials said. At least 60,000 people left their homes in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh on Friday. India's eastern naval command, based in the Andhra Pradesh port of Vishakapatnam, was on alert and shelters were being stocked with rations. All leave for government employees was cancelled. Police said a rescue effort was launched for 18 fishermen stranded four nautical miles at sea from Paradip, a major port in Odisha, after their trawler ran out of fuel.

Paradip Port shuts operations amid cyclone threat

Paradip halted cargo operations on Friday. All vessels were ordered to leave the port, which handles coal, crude oil and iron ore. An oil tanker holding about 2 million barrels of oil, worth $220 million, was also moved, an oil company source said. But the storm was not expected to hit India's largest gas field, the D6 natural gas block in the Cauvery Basin further down the east coast, field operator Reliance Industries (RELI.NS) said.

Katrina hit the U.S. Gulf coast on August 29, 2005, killing about 1,800 people, and causing damage of around $75 billion. It was one of the six biggest hurricanes - also known as cyclones and typhoons - ever recorded.

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