Three persons were killed in rain-related incidents as very severe cyclonic storm Hudhud battered the Andhra coast with heavy rains after making a landfall in Visakhapatnam, causing extensive damage in three coastal districts and throwing normal life out of gear today.
The trail of destruction and severity of the storm prompted Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu to request Centre to declare the cyclone a national calamity.
Marked by gusty winds at speeds ranging from 170 to 180 kmph and heavy downpour, Hudhud uprooted trees, electric poles and other civic infrastructure in the coastal districts of Visakhapatnam, Srikakulam and Vizianagaram.
Three persons were killed in rain-related incidents like wall collapse and tree fall in Srikakulam and Visakhapatnam districts.
"The wind speed in Visakhapatnam was such that the impact was felt even when windows of pucca houses were closed," many a residents in the port city said.
The city has been rendered without power supply since yesterday night and communication systems have collapsed at many places. With no television broadcast available, people depended on radio for news and information.
Naidu, who got a call from Prime Minister Narendra Modi while addressing a press conference in Hyderabad, told him that the state government is doing its best to provide relief to people.
Naidu has also informed the Prime Minister that the radar monitoring the cyclone situation in Visakhapatnam got disconnected.
Though Hudhud crossed the coast during the day, the gusty winds and rain continued and IMD warned in its bulletin at 5 PM of rainfall at most places with heavy (6.5–12.4 cm), very heavy falls (12.5–24.4 cm) at a few places, and isolated extremely heavy falls over West and East Godavari, Visakhapatnam, Vijayanagaram and Srikakulam districts of north Andhra Pradesh and Ganjam, Gajapati, Koraput, Rayagada, Nabarangpur, Malkangiri, Kalahandi, Phulbani districts of south Odisha during the next 24 hours.
Naidu, who reviewed the situation with top officials here, left for Visakhapatnam and vowed to function from the port city till normalcy is restored.
"The Chief Minister has directed the entire cabinet to reach Visakhapatnam by tomorrow afternoon," his Advisor (Communication), Parakala Prabhakar told reporters. Naidu also said that he had written to the Prime Minister, asking Centre to declare cyclone Hudhud a national calamity.
He also asked the Centre for an ad hoc relief package of Rs 2,000 crore.
According to the disaster management department of the state government, 320 villages in the four coastal districts were affected by the cyclone and as many as 1,35,262 people were evacuated to relief camps.
It said that 24 teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel and six helicopters have been deployed for rescue and relief operations, besides four Army columns.
Naidu said that the government was able to reduce loss of life due to the precautionary measures taken and directed officials to take up restoration works of power poles, transformers, railway lines, tanks and reservoirs on war-footing from tomorrow.
He said that damages to victims and their families should be enumerated liberally based on their loss and be paid accordingly.
The Chief Minister said that Andhra Pradesh government, for the first time in India, is using space technology with the help of ISRO and National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) in disaster management.
The government with the help of NRSC has also launched an Android app for a crowd-sourcing project where people could upload photos from their smartphones. NRSC said that over 3,000 downloads of app was recorded.
The Chief Minister directed NRSC to use GIS, GPS and remote sensing technologies to spot damage and put them on the satellite through geo-tagging. This will enable the government to have the data on damages on the map.
He added that we have engaged four satellites--RI Sat1, RISat2, Radar Sat and Resource Sat2--to monitor the cyclone.
Naidu also urged officials to use Facebook, Twitter and Google to spread the message. The state government has created a Facebook page called 'AP Disaster Management' for which Facebook and Google have promoted and verified the page within an hour of its launch.
The government has also created #HudhudAP to reach out to people and get information from them on Twitter and Facebook. It is also using Whatsapp extensively.
Naidu added that crop loss pictures, pictures of damaged roads, bridges, reservoirs and tanks and railway lines would be made available through satellite technology by ISRO.
The devastation caused by the cyclone put a question mark over the conduct of the ODI between India and West Indies scheduled to be held in Visakhapatnam on Tuesday next.