Heavy rain lash Odisha as cyclone Phailin advances
Bhubaneswar – High wind and heavy rain lashed the coastal belt of Odisha Saturday disrupting normal life, as the severe cyclonic storm Phailin advances from the Bay of Bengal, and is expected to make landfall by Saturday evening, officials said.
Authorities continued their efforts to evacuate people from the low-laying areas of the coast to the cyclone shelters and high rise buildings. The weatherman predicted that the speed and intensity of the wind and rain are likely to grow stronger during the day.
Special relief commissioner Pradeep Kumar Mohapatra said about three lakh people have been already moved to safer places, and more people are likely to be shifted during next couple of hours.
He told IANS the wind speed was picking up in several areas. In Ganjam, it has reached 60-80 km/h and the sea was witnessing high tide.
The meteorological centre here in its latest bulletin said the very severe cyclonic storm over west central and adjoining east central Bay of Bengal moved northwestwards during past 6 hours.
It lay centred at about 355 km south-southeast of Paradip in Jagatsinghpur district, and 320 km southeast of Gopalpur in Ganjam district, said the bulletin.
It would move northwestwards and cross north Andhra Pradesh and Odisha coasts between Kalingapatnam and Paradip, close to Gopalpur (Odisha) by Saturday evening, with a maximum sustained wind speed of 210-220 kmph, it said.
The cyclone, which is expected to make landfall in Gopalpur area of Ganjam district, is likely to cause damages in the coastal district of Ganjam, Gajapati, Khordha, Puri and Jagatsinghpur, although many other districts are also likely to be affected by heavy rains and flooding.
Heavy to very heavy rainfall is expected at most places. Some places may witness extremely heavy falls of about 25 centimeters, the weather office said.
Around 18 fishermen, who went for fishing in Bay of Bengal in a trawler over a week ago, were stranded in the sea in Astaranga area of Puri district and coast guards have been pressed into services to rescue them, local police officials told IANS.
Many low-laying areas were inundated due to heavy rains. Similarly road communications have been disrupted in some places of Ganjam and Jagatsinghpur districts. Power lines have also been affected.
The state government said it has heightened preparedness to deal with the cyclone. Stocks of food grain and other essential commodities have already been kept in cyclone relief centres, so that people do not face difficulties. People who have taken shelters in such centres were provided cooked food.
Relief and rescue officials have already arrived at vulnerable places and started operations. At least 28 teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) would also be pressed into relief and rescue work and 20 of them have already reached the vulnerable area.
About ten choppers have been kept in West Bengal for air-dropping of relief materials as operation at Biju Patnaik airport in Bhubaneswar may get affected by the rough weather.