Cyclone Hudhud is surging toward Visakhapatnam at 180 kmph and is expected to hit the coast at noon, said officials on Sunday as thousands in Andhra Pradesh and Orissa braced for the tropical storm.
Heavy winds lashed Visakhapatnam coast as Hudhud lay 110 km southwest of the port city. “Pre-cyclonic conditions are quite active six hours before the landfall. Heavy winds are lashing Visakhapatnam and surrounding areas. Wind speed can go up to 200 kmph when it hits the land,” said director of the Cyclone Warning Centre Ramachandra Rao.
Andhra Pradesh and Odisha on Saturday started evacuating thousands of people as Hudhud barrelled towards the east coast states, furiously picking up pace. By Sunday morning, hours before it makes landfall in Visakhapatnam, it would have attained its top speed of 195kmph, the weather office warned.
Around 1.1 lakh people in Andhra and more than 26,000 in Odisha were evacuated on Saturday as it started raining heavily and the seas turned choppy. All fishing operations were suspended in six districts of Andhra and four of Odisha.
On Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a high level emergency meeting to review preparedness. The National Crisis Management Committee also met after discussions with the chief secretaries of the two states.
Read: PM holds emergency meeting to review preparedness for Hudhud
Over two lakh people living in and around the vulnerable coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha have been evacuated.
In Andhra, 370 relief camps have been opened in five districts - Srikakulam, Vizianagaram, Visakhapatnam, East Godavari and West Godavari - where 396 villages are likely to be affected.
In Odisha, officials have evacuated 360 members of the endangered Bonda tribe from their habitat in the Bonda Hills in Malkangiri district. The state government began evacuating people from vulnerable areas to minimise casualties even as two flights and 39 trains on the route were cancelled.Odisha administration officials visited seaside villages urging people to move but many stayed put. The police did not force them on to buses heading towards some 300-odd storm shelters, unlike during Cyclone Phailin last year, which left close to 30 dead and displaced 400,000.
Cyclone Hudhud: Evacuation begins in Andhra, Odisha
Railways have cancelled the movement of about 40 trains between Bhubaneswar and Visakhapatnam and diverted many trains to other routes for safety.Tirupati-Bhubaneswar Express, Bangalore-Bhubaneswar Premium Special, Jagadalpur-Howrah Samaleswari Express, Bhubaneswar Junagarh Express, Visakhapatnam-Secunderabad Express, Visakhapatnam-Guntur Express and Tirupati-Visakhapatnam Express are some of the trains which have been cancelled as a precautionary measure, said a senior Railway Ministry official.
Read: Andhra seeks satellite pictures from ISRO
Fishermen of Chapalavuppada move their vessels further inland to avoid damage due to the storm surge which can even take the boat into the sea. (Prasad Nichenametla/HT Photo)
East Coast Railway has made elaborate arrangements to meet the situtation that could arise out of the cyclonic storm and heavy rains.
Hudhud is forecasted to maintain its intensity for up to six hours after landfall before gradually weakening into a cyclonic storm while moving across southern interior Odisha and Chhattisgarh, the Met said. It will bring heavy rain to west and east Godavari, Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram and Srikakulam districts of Andhra and Ganjam, Gajapati, Koraput, Rayagada, Nabarangpur, Malkangiri, Kalahandi and Phulbani in Odisha in the next 48 hours. In addition, south Chhattisgarh and north Telangana will also receive rain.
Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF) and district administration person during a mock drill before cyclone ‘Hudhud’ in Puri. (HT Photo)
The Centre has stationed 39 National Disaster Response Force teams comprising more than 1,680 rescuers along with 199 inflatable rubber boats in the two states and deployed 20 army rescue and engineering teams. The air force, navy and Coast Guard are also on standby.
In pics: Andhra braces for cyclone Hudhud
(With inputs from Agencies)