The administration in Andhra Pradesh's coastal region on Tuesday went on high alert as the cyclonic storm Laila intensified and is likely to cross the coast near Machilipatnam.
Second warning signals have been hoisted at all Andhra ports as the depression over Bay of Bengal turned into a cyclonic storm and lay centred at 690 km southeast of Visakhapatnam.
It is likely to cross the coast near the port city of Machilipatnam in Krishna district, about 450 km from here, in about 72 hours.
Since the coastal region will experience the impact of the storm from Tuesday night, authorities have sounded a high alert.
According to the Visakhapatnam Cyclone Warning Centre, strong gales with speeds reaching 65 to 75 km per hour are likely to commence along and off the Andhra coast from Tuesday. The wind speed may further increase as the system moves closer to the coast.
Since the sea condition will also be rough, the fishermen have been advised not to venture into the sea.
The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has forecast widespread rainfall with isolated heavy to very heavy rain in coastal Andhra from May 19. The impact of the cyclonic storm may continue till May 25.
"The system is likely to intensify further and move in a west-northwesterly direction for some more time and then move in a northwesterly to northerly direction during the next 72 hours towards the Andhra Pradesh coast close to Machilipatnam," an IMD bulletin said.
The official machinery in all the nine coastal districts has been asked to be on high alert. Leave of employees have been cancelled till May 25. Those on leave have been asked to report back immediately.
Minister for Revenue, Relief and Rehabilitation D Prasada Rao told reporters here that the leave of employees especially in departments like disaster management, revenue, police, fire services, electricity, roads and buildings and Panchayat Raj have been cancelled.
Chief Minister K Rosaiah directed the district collectors to take all preventive measures to minimize the loss of life and property. Since there is still sufficient time before the cyclone crosses the coast, the collectors were told to take measures to save life and property, he said.
The strong winds could topple walls and electricity and communication towers.