Another tropical storm — after Phailin last month and Helen last week — is set to pound the Andhra coast now.
Cyclone Lehar, at present lying 850 km east-southeast of Kakinada, is likely to make a landfall at noon on Thursday in East Godavari district. The cyclone was moving at 16 km an hour on Tuesday. Lehar has been classified as a very severe cyclonic storm — on a par with Phailin — and could intensify further with a speed of about 180 km per hour at the time of landfall.
Gusty winds of 200 km per hour could also be experienced. Coastal Andhra – especially from Visakhapatnam to Krishna districts – will have heavy rain from Wednesday. The sea will turn very rough and fishermen have been prohibited from venturing into the waters. While 5,550 boats returned, 610 are still at sea.
“There will be extensive damage to kutcha houses and communication lines, and disruption in power supply and rail and road traffic, apart from crop destruction. Escape routes are likely to be flooded and threats from flying debris are expected,” said C Partha Sarathi, commissioner, state disaster management.
Thirty teams of the National Disaster Response Force are taking up position along the coastal districts. The district machinery has been kept on alert regarding the evacuation people from the low-lying areas.