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Laila threat weakens

india Updated: May 20, 2010 23:47 IST

A much-weakened Cyclone Laila made a landfall near the coastal town of Bapatla in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh around 5.30 p.m. on Thursday.

But the heavy rains and gail left a trail of devastation in the state’s southern coastal districts.

“We have received reports of nine deaths so far. Besides two people are missing in Krishna district,” S. Balasubramanyam, special commissioner of the Disaster Management Department told HT. The toll could be higher as reports were yet to come from many affected areas.

In neighbouring Karnataka, heavy rains and strong winds have led to six deaths so far. However experts believe the worst is over. Officials monitoring the cyclone said Laila, which was moving north, could further weaken and dissipate.

“The intensity of Laila has come down after hitting the coast in Andhra Pradesh and indications are that it will further weaken and get completely dissipated in the next 12 to 24 hours. There does not seem much of a cyclone threat to Orissa and Bengal,” an official who is monitoring satellite imagery from NASA and other international organisations, said.

A heavy cloud cover over the landmass in coastal Andhra could result in heavy and very heavy rains in the next 24 hours.

Chief Minister K. Rosaiah said the heavy rains damaged standing crops in 10,000 acres, besides destroying 130 houses and killing scores of milch animals. “These are early estimates. We are still assessing the damages caused by the cyclone.”

Power and telecom infrastructure was damaged in many districts. Train services too were hit as the South Central Railway and East Coast Railway cancelled or suspended 40 train services. Phone towers were damaged, disrupting telephone and mobile services.

Eight companies of the National Disaster Response Force with 128 boats have been deployed in the affected districts.

Fifty-one thousand people have been evacuated to relief camps and cyclone shelters, government officials said.