Very severe cyclone hurtling towards Odisha, Andhra - The New Indian Express

Very severe cyclone hurtling towards Odisha, Andhra

Published: 12th October 2013 08:27 AM

Last Updated: 12th October 2013 10:53 AM

With Phailin just about 400 km away and thundering towards south Odisha and north Andhra Pradesh coast with immense strength, the Odisha Government mounted a massive evacuation exercise as it began to move over 7 lakh people from seven coastal districts on Friday.

By evening, the Government claimed to have shifted at least one lakh people to safer places, while another one lakh would be evacuated overnight, well before the storm hits the coast on Saturday afternoon.

Phailin, now a very severe cyclonic storm, is expected to make landfall about 40 km south of Gopalpur on Saturday afternoon.

Since Phailin is expected to pack in wind in the range of 240 km per hour or more, the Government asked the Collectors of Ganjam, Gajapati, Puri, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Nayagarh and Khurda to evacuate all the people living in thatched, asbestos and tin-roofed houses in the 15 km radius from the coast.


 

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who took stock of the measures, directed 100 per cent evacuation of people to cyclone, flood shelters and safer places to ensure zero casualty, since the cyclone is expected to trigger massive tidal surge reaching a height of 3 metres. The district collectors of Bhadrak and Balasore too were issued instructions to move people from the shoreline and low-lying areas. Cooked and dry food were being provided to the people shifted to the cyclone and flood shelters.

With Phailin now being described as a storm as big as Hurricane Katrina and the 1999 super-cyclone, the Centre despatched huge contingencies of rescue units to tackle the post-calamity scenario.

Special Relief Commissioner Pradipta Kumar Mohapatra said as many as 10 Indian Air Force choppers have been provided to the State for undertaking relief and rescue operation while MI-17, Dhruv and Cheetah have been kept in a state of readiness.
 

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Two AM-32 aircraft of IAF reached the State capital earlier in the day.That apart, 300 Army engineers, 50 doctors from Navy and 29 special rescue marines will arrive in the State on Saturday.

The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has already mobilised 28 units to assist the relief and rescue operations.

The Indian Navy too have readied a ship and its choppers for assisting the rescue operations after the system crosses over to the land on Saturday.

Director of India Meteorological Department, Odisha, Sarat Chandra Sahu said Phailin was moving at a speed of 15 km per hour over the Bay of Bengal and is expected to reach the coast near Gopalpur by October 12 afternoon.

He put the current wind speed unleashed by Phailin over the sea at about 220 km per hour and said the same speed will continue till it reaches the land.

However, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center of US Navy described the storm much stronger with the current wind speed at about 260 km per hour.

Since the 1999 super-cyclone clocked maximum sustained wind at about 260-270 km, Phailin was being seen as a storm as big as the one that hit the State 14 years ago and claimed about 10,000 lives.

In fact, international meteorologist Eric Holthaus, in his forecast, described Phailin on a par with Hurricane Katrina basing on the current wind speed and central pressure levels. Closing in to the east coast, Phailin had covered the entire Bay of Bengal during the day triggering rains and wind along the coast. So big was its outer wing that it could encompass half of India.

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