Hyderabad: Strong winds and heavy rains led to large-scale disruption of power lines in three coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh as the state braced for Hudhud, a very severe cyclonic storm that is expected to hit the coast around noon on Sunday. "Except East Godavari, power entirely failed in the three districts of Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram and Srikakulam (which are expected to bear the brunt). There were gale winds. The situation is very severe. National Highway in the region has been shut," Special Commissioner, State Disaster Management Authority, K Hymavathi told PTI.
Tens of thousands of people had been evacuated from vulnerable areas of the four districts. According to the latest bulletin of Indian Meteorological Department, the storm would cross close to the port city of Visakhapatnam around noon. Wind speed reaching 70-80 kmph gusting to 90 kmph would prevail along and off north Andhra Pradesh and south Odisha coasts on Sunday morning.
The wind speed would gradually increase to 170-180 kmph gusting to 195 kmph around the time of landfall along and off north Andhra Pradesh (East Godavari, Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram and Srikakulam districts) and 80-90 kmph along and off adjoining districts of Andhra Pradesh (West Godavari & Krishna districts) and south Odisha (Ganjam, Gajapati, Koraput and Malkangiri districts).
The department warned that storm surge of about 1-2 metres above astronomical tide would inundate low lying areas of Visakhapatnam, Vijayanagaram and Srikakulam districts of north coastal Andhra Pradesh at the time of landfall. "Even after landfall the system would maintain the intensity of very severe cyclonic storm for six hours and gradually weaken into a cyclonic storm in subsequent six hours while moving northwestwards across south interior Odisha and Chhattisgarh," the bulletin said.
Andhra Pradesh government has identified 356 villages in 59 mandals of the four districts as cyclone-prone. More than 300 relief camps have been opened. As many as 19 National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams (each consisting of 45-50 members) were deployed in the four districts.
Army columns are positioned at Visakhapatnam and Srikakulam with power boats and other equipment for rescue and relief. Six helicopters have been positioned in the Naval base at Visakhapatnam. The Indian Air Force has tasked Headquarters Training Command, Bangalore to be the nodal agency for all relief operations in connection with severe cyclone Hudhud.
Earlier this year, a disaster relief conclave was held at Hyderabad wherein officials from all concerned agencies participated. All relief operations will be undertaken by the IAF under the leadership of Air Marshal Ramesh Rai, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Headquarters Training Command. "Sufficient number of aircraft are kept in readiness for this relief operation," the IAF said.