Respite for Andhra as cyclone weakens | india | Hindustan Times
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Respite for Andhra as cyclone weakens

india Updated: May 21, 2010 23:18 IST

Coastal Andhra Pradesh received some respite on Friday as cyclonic storm Laila weakened into a depression, but only after three days of rains and gales it brought left 33 people dead and caused widespread destruction.

The cyclone has moved north-northeastwards and weakened into a depression. According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), it lay centred about 100 km west of Kakinada.

"The system is likely to weaken further and move in a north-northeasterly direction," said an IMD bulletin.

Ther weather office has forecast widespread rainfall with scattered heavy to very heavy rain over north coastal Andhra Pradesh and adjoining Telangana.

The weakening of the cyclone will provide relief to people in coastal Andhra, especially cyclone-hit south coastal districts. Officials said the intensity of rains and the speed of gales had come down.

Chief Minister K. Rosaiah advised officials to remain on alert for the next two days in view of the rain forecast.

The relief operations are in full swing in south coastal districts of Prakasam, Guntur, Nellore and Krishna. More than 70,000 people have moved to relief camps, a majority of them in the worst-hit Prakasam district.

The cyclone, which hit the coast near Bapatla town in Guntur district, has claimed 23 lives. However, the toll in rain-related incidents since Tuesday has gone up to 33.

According to officials in the disaster management department, Krishna district accounted for seven deaths. Five people were killed in Prakasam, four each in Nellore and Guntur, two in East Godavari and one in Visakhapatnam.

Three people are missing.

Cyclone Laila left a trail of destruction in the four districts, damaging houses and crops, paralysing transport system and disrupting electricity and communications. Officials said electricity was yet to be restored in 692 villages.

The rains and gales damaged 172 houses fully and 265 partly. Fishermen have lost 416 boats while 1,643 boats were damaged in seven districts.

According to preliminary reports, 11,351 hectares of agricultural crops and 7,949 hectares of horticulture crops like mango and banana were damaged.

Road transport in south coastal districts came to a standstill due to rains and uprooted trees. The Chennai-Kolkata national highway in Ongole town is under four feet water.

Train services remained paralysed for the second day. Over 100 trains have been cancelled while several others were diverted.