Authorities in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh stocked shelters with rations and planned mass evacuations on Thursday as the states stepped up their preparedness for a powerful cyclone that is likely to hit the southeastern coast at the weekend.
Cyclone Hudhud is moving in from the Bay of Bengal and is expected to develop into a severe storm, packing wind speeds of up to 140 kilometres per hour, before hitting the coast near Visakhapatnam on Sunday.
“We are stocking all the essential commodities,” said Vishakhapatnam district collector N Yuvaraj.
“We are assessing the probable habitations which are to be evacuated. We have also warned fishermen not to venture out to sea, and are sending communication to those already out there to return to the coast.”
Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu reviewed preparations with district officials while chief secretary IYR Krishna Rao directed district collectors to evacuate people from low-lying areas.
The weather office suggested suspension of fishing operations as the sea is likely to be rough off the cost of Andhra Pradesh where Vishakapatnam, Vizianagaram and Srikakulam districts are likely to bear the brunt of the storm.
Mobile service providers have sent messages to people in Telugu warning them of the cyclone.
The state is also in touch with the army and the air force, while four National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams have been sent to the Andhra coast.
Weather officials said the cyclone could skip Odisha, but the state was not taking chances.
More than 100 power boats and 350 cyclone shelters have been kept ready while 10 teams of the Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force and eight NDRF teams were deployed in areas that were affected by Cyclone Phailin last year.
Chief minister Naveen Patnaik held a meeting with senior officials on Thursday to review the preparations.
“I reviewed the contingency plan of important departments like water resources, energy, food and civil supplies and works. Tomorrow, according to routine programme, there will be mock drill in cyclone shelters,” Patnaik said.
Cyclone Phailin struck Odisha last year, causing damage to houses and property but timely evacuation by the government minimised the loss of lives.