A cyclonic storm hit the Andaman and Nicobar islands on Wednesday and was expected to turn into a “very severe cyclonic storm” and hit northern Andhra Pradesh and coastal Odisha around Saturday midnight.
The Odisha government cancelled puja holidays of its employees in 14 districts — Balasore, Bhadrak, Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar, Dhenkanal, Jajpur, Cuttack, Kendrapada, Jagatsinghpur, Puri, Khurda, Nayagarh, Ganjam and Gajapati — and ordered deployment of Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force.
“We will start mock drills of the ODRAF and fire personnel from Thursday in these districts,” revenue minister SN Patro said in Bhubaneswar.
CM Naveen Patnaik held a video conference with collectors of these districts and asked them to stock up food and medical supplies. In Andhra Pradesh, CM N Kiran Kumar Reddy appealed to striking government employees in coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions to return to work to meet any emergency.
A MeT department bulletin said the storm moving at 13 km per hour would cross north Andhra Pradesh and Odisha with a sustained wind speed of 175-185 km by Saturday night, triggering heavy rain.
“Fishermen have been asked not to venture into Andaman Sea and Bay of Bengal and those at sea along north Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal have been advised to return to coast,” said a Met department official. The Odisha government also asked the central government to keep helicopters and defence personnel on standby.
In Kolkata, heavy rain is expected on Saturday.