Well-prepared Andhra, Odisha weather Cyclone Hudhud, six dead, Vishakapatnam worst hit
A total of 2,48,004 people were 'affected' by Hudhud, which also damaged 70 houses and left 34 animals dead.
New Delhi: Sunday noon witnessed the very severe cyclonic storm Hudhud hitting the coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha with full force but the loss of life was contained to single digits by a well prepared administration. Even though heavy rain and winds of almost 200 kmph left six people dead and destroyed property across Vishakapatnam, but with several lakh people already shifted to safer areas well before Hudhud made landfall, the worst fears of a very high death toll did not materialise..
The eye of Hudhud crossed the east coast of India at Naval base INS Kalinga, north of Vishakhapatnam, between Vishakhapatnam and Bheemilipatnam at about 11:30 am on Sunday. The cyclone had been moving at a speed of approximately 20 kmph with wind speeds of the order of 180 kmph. The winds reduced considerably as the eye of the storm passed over the region. However, the rainfall is likely to continue for next 24 hours.
High velocity winds battered Visakhapatnam, Srikakulam and Vizianagaram districts throwing normal life out of gear after the cyclone made landfall shortly before noon downing power and communications lines and closing roads and railways.
Trees were uprooted and roofs of thatched huts and sheds and hoardings blown away. All the transport services including the railways came to to a halt in the region due to the storm. South Central Railways either cancelled or diverted dozens of trains as the storm hit the eastern coastal region. The railway services are expected to resume by Monday.
Nearly 3.5 lakh people including 2.5 lakh in Andhra and nearly a lakh in Odisha were evacuated and tens of thousands of people were still being taken to safe places and housed in special shelters.
Streets of several cities falling in the path of cyclone largely wore a deserted look as panic-stricken residents remained indoors.
According to Andhra Pradesh Revenue (Disaster Management) Department, the cyclone left railway lines in Visakhapatnam badly damaged, besides causing "damage" to the airport.
A total of 2,48,004 people were "affected" by Hudhud, which also damaged 70 houses and left 34 animals dead, it said.
Three people were killed in rain-related incidents in Andhra Pradesh while one person lost his life in Odisha.
"The impact is tremendous," Union Minister Ashok Gajapati Raju said.
"Three deaths have been reported due to impact of Hudhud. Two died after trees fell on them and one in collapse of compound-wall in Visakhapatnam and Srikakulam districts, respectively," AP Chief Secretary IVR Krishna Rao said.
A fisherman was caught in the sea current amid a tidal surge while he was trying to save his fishing boat anchored in the coast of Puri, Special Relief Commissioner PK Mohapatra said.
On Saturday, a nine-year-old girl drowned when a boat engaged in evacuation of the people in Satbhaya area of Kendrapara district capsized in the Baunsagadi rivulet.
In Delhi, IMD Director Laxman Singh Rathore said that as the cyclone was crossing the coastline the wind speed was 170-180 kmph and gusting up to 195 kmph.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu and discussed relief and rescue measures and promised all possible assistance.
Cyclone Hudhud lost its intensity by evening as it moved further 60 km northwest of Visakhapatnam, the IMD said.
Hudhud, which was so far a very severe cyclonic storm, has now converted into a severe cyclone and its speed is now limited to 100-110 kmph, said M Mahapatra, Scientist at the Cyclone Warning Division of IMD.
"Communication has totally collapsed including power. We are working on rescue. Our administration, so far as possible, wherever they can reach they are reaching," Naidu said in Hyderabad.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said the cyclone had its impact in different districts like Ganjam, Gajapati, Koraput, Puri, Kalahandi and Kendrapara.
"Due to the hilly topography, the cyclone's intensity will reduce in next six hours and further reduce in next 12 hours. However, the area (Vizag) will experience heavy to very heavy rainfall for the next three days," Rathore said earlier in the day.
As the storm progresses, it will bring heavy rainfall to very heavy rainfall in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand Bihar, East Madhya Pradesh and East Uttar Pradesh and Gangetic belt of West Bengal, he said.
"The PMO is monitoring the situation arising out of the cyclone at regular intervals," he added.
Aircraft services will be able to operate from Monday morning as the weather is expected to improve, officials said. Union Cabinet Secretary Ajit Kumar Seth said the Prime Minister was concerned not only about AP and Odisha but also wanted other states, which could face heavy rains minus the cyclone, to be alerted.
Seth advised residents of cyclone-hit Vishakhapatnam to exercise caution till the second phase of the high wind is over even as he lauded the efforts of the central agencies and state government in meeting the challenge.
Twenty-four NDRF (National Disaster Response Force) teams (each comprising 45-50 members) are on duty on the Andhra coast, including three that are on the way.
Six helicopters have been positioned in the Naval base in Visakhapatnam while two Army columns are also stationed in Vishakapatnam and at Srikakulam with power boats and other equipment for rescue and relief operations. In addition, 56 boats and launches have been deployed.