Panic grips three districts as Phailin hits coast - The New Indian Express

Panic grips three districts as Phailin hits coast

Published: 13th October 2013 11:12 AM

Last Updated: 13th October 2013 11:46 AM

Panic atmosphere prevails in North Coastal Andhra districts as cyclone Phailin made the landfall near Gopalpur of Odisha on Saturday night. The authorities have already evacuated about 1.29 lakh people from vulnerable areas and more people would be evacauted if required. Said to be the strongest cyclonic storm to hit the East Coast in 14 years, Phailin has wreaked havoc even before crossed the coast, with high tides rising up to 3 metres and sea surging forward by 40-100 feet.

Being closer to Ground Zero, Srikakulam district was the worst hit and experienced heavy rain coupled with gales since Friday night, resulting in severe damage in Uddanam, Itchapuram, Kalingapatnam and Sompeta areas. Except for Srikaulam town, power supply to most parts of the district was cut off. Squally wind of above 70 kmph resulted in uprooting of electric poles and trees in these places.

Officials informed that so far 1.29 lakh people have been evacuated from over 300 villages of Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam districts. Medical education minister Kondru Murali told reporters in Srikakulam that nearly 85,000 people from Srikakulam district alone were evacuated on Saturday. The government arranged for 115 relief camps, of which 56 are in Srikakulam, 43 in Vizianagaram and 16 in Visakhapatnam district.

Under the impact of Phailin, the entire coastal region was lashed by heavy rain on Saturday. Around 237 villages in 11 mandals of Srikakulam district, six villages and 22 hamlets in Vizianagaram district and 67 villages in 10 mandals of Visakhapatnam district are affected by the cyclone.

The East Coast Railway has cancelled or terminated over 45 trains on different routes on Saturday. Indigo flight from Visakhapatnam to Bhubaneswar was cancelled and authorities said flight services are unlikely to be resumed on Sunday. Irrigation officials are monitoring levels in water bodies in the coastal districts and medical teams have been kept ready.

Houses Flooded

In Visakhapatnam district, fishermen living along the beach road between Appu Ghar in Visakhapatnam and Bheemili were shocked when water flooded their huts in the wee hours on Saturday. Fishermen rushed to safety and are taking shelter in the houses of their friends and relatives. The district administration too is providing shelter to the victims. Panic spread as water entered houses in Mangamaripeta near Bheemili and the officials have evacuated the fishermen colony as a precautionary measure.

The officials complained that people were resisting evacuation despite repeated requests. “If people do not cooperate, the district collectors have been asked to envoke Section 34 C of the Disaster Management Act and evacuate them forcibly,” said revenue minister N Raghuveera Reddy during his visit to Visakhapatnam. He airdashed to Visakhapatnam to oversee evacuation and relief operations in the North Coastal districts.

Huts, nearly 30 boats and several fishing nets were damaged in the three districts. Protection walls collapsed at the Fishing Harbour and Appu Ghar in Visakhapatnam and also at Bheemili. Fishermen fear that their boats would be damaged due to high tides. Fishermen have been advised not to venture into the sea for the next 72 hours.

Beach Roads Closed

The police had difficulty restricting the movement of public along Ramakrishna beach in Visakhapatnam as a large number of people thronged the area to take a glimpse of the violent sea on Saturday. Around evening, police cardoned off the area to vehicular movement. Police urged the public not to come to the beach.

A large number of Army, Navy and Coast Guard personnel and about 19 rescue teams of NDRF have been positioned in vunerable areas. The teams have been equipped with satellite phones and wireless sets to maintain communication in case normal communication lines are affected. The Navy has deployed two ships, including INS Jalashwa equipped with divers, doctors, inflatable boats, helicopters and relief material required for about 5,000 people for three days. Six helicopters have been kept at INS Dega in Visakhapatnam. About 500 personnel of the Bison regiment of the Indian Army moved to Srikakulam and Visakhapatnam districts on Friday night itself to assist the respective district administrations in relief and rescue operations.

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