M A I N   N E W S

Hudhud batters AP, Odisha; 8 dead
* 3.5 lakh people evacuated
* 200 kmph winds slam Visakhapatnam
* PM promises help
Suresh Dharur & Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

People caught in heavy rain at Gopalpur in Odisha
People caught in heavy rain at Gopalpur in Odisha. PTI

A damaged house in East Godavari District of AP
A damaged house in East Godavari District of AP. PTI

Hyderabad/New Delhi, October 12
Eight persons were killed as “very severe cyclonic storm” Hudhud battered coastal Andhra Pradesh and parts of Odisha today, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake.

More than 3.5 lakh people — 2.5 lakh in Andhra Pradesh and one lakh in Odisha — were evacuated and tens of thousands of people were being taken to safer places, officials said.

The cyclone with wind speeds reaching up to 200 kmph crossed the coast between Bheemli and Kailasgiri, near the port city of Visakhapatnam, in north coastal Andhra.

Visakhapatnam bore the brunt as uprooted trees, fallen electric poles and battered hoardings dotted the city.

The port city and the adjoining districts of Vizianagaram and Srikakulam were hammered by heavy rain right from Sunday morning as the cyclone’s periphery entered the coast before the eye of the storm crossed over marking landfall around 1 pm. Tidal waves reaching up to three metres slammed the Visakhapatnam coast.

The meteorological department later said the cyclone had lost speed and was currently moving at a wind speed of 100-110 kmph.

The winds reduced considerably as the eye of the storm passed over the region, said the government adding the rainfall was likely to continue for the next 24 hours.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Andhra Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu soon after the storm hit the state and promised Centre’s help.

Naidu said five deaths had been reported from the affected districts of the state. All deaths occurred due to falling of trees or wall collapse. Three persons, including a minor girl, were reportedly killed in Odisha.

“The initial assessment reveals human casualty has been minimal, mainly due to the precautionary measures taken by the government such as shifting people from low-lying areas to safer zones,” Naidu said.

The losses, however, were massive with the cyclone causing extensive damage to standing crops, buildings and communication lines, he added.

“The next few hours are crucial since the meteorological department has forecast heavy rain. Our focus is now on relief, rescue and rehabilitation,” he said. There was no report of damage to any major installation in Odisha.

Over two lakh people had been evacuated and housed in over 600 cyclone shelters in Andhra. “The safety of the people is my primary concern,” Naidu added.

The authorities have warned people in the affected areas not to move out of their houses or shelters.

“There is a lull now but the cyclonic activity would increase when the tail of the storm passes over the coast,” an official said.

Besides cancellation of over 60 trains and diversion of another 50 trains passing through the affected areas, the authorities closed down traffic movement on the Kolkata-Chennai national highway between Kakinada and Itchapuram.

Sources said the authorities had converted railway community halls, station buildings and even some railway coaches into cyclone shelters in the affected districts.

Flights in the region were also disrupted as the storm caused “damage” to the Visakhapatnam airport, said officials. Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said the districts hit by the cyclone included Ganjam, Gajapati, Koraput, Puri, Kalahandi and Kendrapara.

The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has deployed 42 rescue teams — 24 in Andhra Pradesh and 18 in Odisha — comprising 1,775 rescuers along with 214 rescue boats in vulnerable locations. The Indian Army, Navy and Air Force personnel are also on standby.

In New Delhi, the government said the Eastern Naval Command had been put on high alert. “The preparations include readying ships, aircraft and diving teams. Indian Naval ships Ranjit, Shivalik, Shakti and Airavat are ready to sail with relief material. Four more ships have been kept ready for sailing at short notice,” a statement from the Ministry of Defence said.

Two Dornier fixed-wing aircraft and six helicopters were also ready for deployment and one long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft (P 8I) had been kept on standby for carrying out damage assessment, it added.

(With agency inputs)

Power down, traffic hit

Hudhud caused extensive damage to power and communication lines, besides affecting surface and air transport in the storm-hit region. More than 60 trains were cancelled and another 50 diverted in the affected areas. Traffic on the Kolkata-Chennai NH was suspended. Flights were hit as Vizag airport suffered damage.

Rescue teams on standby

The NDRF has deployed 42 rescue teams — 24 in Andhra Pradesh and 18 in Odisha — comprising 1,775 rescuers along with 214 rescue boats in vulnerable areas. The Army, Navy and Air Force personnel were also on standby.





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