VIJAYAWADA: Heavy rains started lashing southern mandals of Nellore district including Sullurpeta, Vakadu, Tada, Chittamuru since early hours of Monday under the influence of very severe cyclone Vardah, which is hurtling towards coast, with wind speed of 80 to 90 kmph.
Met department forecast says very severe cyclone Vardah is likely to make landfall between Sriharikota in Nellore and Chennai by Monday afternoon. At 5:30 a.m. on Monday morning the cyclone system was at 150 km east northeast of Chennai and 220 km east and southeast of Nellore.
Following heavy rains and with cyclone likely to make landfall between Nellore district and Chennai, South Central Railways cancelled two trains and partially cancelled two other trains. Nellore-Sullurpeta MEMU and Sullurpeta-Chennai MEMU stand cancelled on Monday, while Vijayawada-Chennai train has been partially cancelled between Gudur and Chennai and Vijayawada-Chennai train has been partially cancelled between Chennai and Gudur.
Three NDRF teams stationed at Sullurpet and Tada of Nellore district are closely monitoring the situation. Municipal administration minister P Narayana along with special officer B Sridhar, district collector R Mutyalaraju are coordinating with district officials deployed at various villages and mandals and taking stock of the situation. Around 30 people from vulnerable areas in Sullurpet and Vakadu were shifted to rehabilitation centres.
Rains also started lashing Tirupati and other parts of Chittoor district and some parts of Prakasam and Kadapa district. Danger signal number 6 has been hoisted in Krishnapatnam port, danger signal number 3 in Machilipatnam and Vadarevu while danger signal number 2 has been hoisted at Visakhapatnam, Gangavaram and Kakinada.
Meanwhile, taking stock of the situation, Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu has directed officials to evacuate 255 low lying areas in Nellore district and shift them to higher grounds. Officials were asked to initiate measures for addressing traffic disruptions due to heavy rain, remove uprooted trees and electricity poles within one hour. They were asked to send SMSes to mobile phones of 82,000 fishermen along the coast in the affected areas asking them not to venture into the sea.
Health officials were directed to take precautionary measures and set up medical camps to address any medical emergency.
About 18 fishermen are reportedly stranded off Nellore coast. Three flights to Chennai and one to Tirupati have either cancelled or diverted to other destinations.
(More details awaited)