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Eight killed as Cyclone Titli lashes Andhra-Odisha coast

The severe cyclonic storm wreaked havoc on infrastructure, blocking roads and hampering emergency work. Television footage showed tin roofs of several houses being blown away.

india Updated: Oct 11, 2018 22:48 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Vijayawada/Bhubaneswar
Cyclone Titli,Andhra Pradesh,Odisha
A damaged mobile tower seen struck down on road due to Cyclone Titli at Barua village of Srikakulam in Andhra Pradesh on Thursday. (PTI)

Cyclone Titli left eight people dead in Andhra Pradesh as it made landfall near Palasa in Srikakulam district, southwest of Odisha’s Gopalpur, on Thursday. While no death was reported from Odisha, the cyclone with a wind speed of 150 km per hour uprooted trees, power installations, disrupted rail and traffic in two states, officials said.

The fishermen were swept away at sea and another two people died in Andhra Pradesh’s Sarigujjula mandal of Srikakulam district as Cyclone Titli hit the coast, said an official release from the state chief minister’s office.

About 150 fishermen from Vizianagaram district ventured into deep sea for fishing 10 days ago and six of them were swept away by the current when their boats were anchored at the coast in Ganjam of Odisha following a cyclone warning, it is said.

Officials said the Coast Guard, NDRF and ODRAF personnel rescued eight fishermen near Gopalpur coast.

The two people killed in Sarigujjula were identified as T Appalanarsamma, 62, and M Surya Rao, 58. Appalanarsamma was killed after a tree fell on her due to the impact of high-speed winds and Rao died in a house collapse.

Vizianagaram collector Hari Jawaharlal said rescue teams were pressed into service to save the missing fishermen.

In another incident, two out of 67 boats engaged by fishermen from Kakinada for the catch in the sea a few days ago are yet to be traced.

Cyclone Titli, with gusts of up to 165 kph (100 mph), made landfall in the Srikakulam district early on Thursday, the India Meteorological Department said. Gopalpur in Odisha reported surface winds at 126 kmph and Kalingapatanam in Andhra Pradesh recorded wind speed of 56 kmph.

Odisha chief secretary AP Padhi said Gajapati district bore the brunt as the cyclone dumped over 200 mm rainfall there. Major roads in the district were cut off.

The severe cyclonic storm wreaked havoc on infrastructure, blocking roads and hampering emergency work. Television footage showed tin roofs of several houses being blown away.

“We fear 6,000-7,000 electricity poles may have been uprooted. Around 400,000 to 500,000 people are now without electricity,” K Dhananjaya Reddy, district administrative chief of Srikakulam in Andhra Pradesh, said.

“We are still assessing the damage and roadblocks are being cleared,” special relief commissioner Bishnupada Sethi said, according to wire agency Reuters.

The weather office said heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places, and extremely heavy rainfall at isolated places is very likely in Odisha in the next 24 hours.

“We believe that the entire state, except some western parts, is likely to receive rain throughout the day. Depending upon the rainfall, we may see some flood in coastal Odisha,” chief secretary Aditya Prasad Padhi said.

While one metre tall tidal waves lashed the coast at Gopalpur, people flocked to the beach to have selfies even as rains lashed. In Ganjam, a pregnant women who delivered her baby at Aska community health centre on Thursday morning, named her as Titli, officials said.

Follow live updates here: 8 dead in Andhra Pradesh; flood situation likely in coastal Odisha

Cyclone Titli will, however, weaken gradually and is expected to turn into a “deep depression” by Friday morning, IMD said. “It (Cyclone Titli) is very likely to move northwestwards for the next 12 hours and then re-curve northeastwards towards Gangetic West Bengal across Odisha,” it said.

“It is very likely to weaken gradually becoming severe cyclonic storm around noon, cyclonic storm around the evening of today (Thursday) and a deep depression by the morning of tomorrow, October 12,” it added.

In a separate development, the rains and high tides in sea opened a new mouth in Chilika lake, Asia’s biggest brackish water lagoon. Officials said tidal waves breached a portion of the lake embankment, leading to a flood-like situation in Arakhakuda village in Puri district.

Path of destruction

As the landfall process started, the three north coastal districts of Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam experienced heavy rains and high-speed gales. And at least five districts — Ganjam, Gajapati, Puri, Khurda and Jagatsinghpur — in Odisha also received rainfall coupled with high-speed winds under the impact of Cyclone Titli.

Seawater entered houses in Uppada in Andhra Pradesh’s East Godavari district as the maximum of the height of the tides was of 10ft along the coast close to the point of landfall. The highway in the Uppada-Kakinada stretch was closed for traffic as a precautionary measure.

Cyclone Titli battered Palasa municipality badly, bringing life to a standstill and several mandals in Srikakulam district lost power after the severe storm. Road communication in some places, including Odisha’s Gopalpur and Berhampur, was snapped, according to PTI.

Uddanam region with seven mandals in Srikakulam district bore the brunt of Cyclone Titli with heavy damages of coconut and cashew plantations. Standing crops in Srikakulam and Vizianagaram districts also reported damages on a massive scale.

Trains, flights cancelled

The East Coast Railway zone of the Indian Railways stopped the movement of all trains on the Chennai-Howrah section from Wednesday afternoon till further orders. Some trains were cancelled too.

The railways also suspended trains bound for Srikakulam and the Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) also withdrew its bus services covering the cyclone-affected areas and power supply was shut down in the wake of warnings sounded by IMD.

The Biju Patnaik International Airport in Bhubaneswar closed its night parking from Wednesday night. Indigo airlines cancelled five of its flights originating from Bhubaneswar.

The cancelled flights include two for Delhi, one each for Kolkata, Bengaluru and Mumbai. The incoming flights from these destinations have also been cancelled, said airport director Suresh Hota.

The Odisha government evacuated over three lakh people from five coastal districts were evacuated as a precautionary step before Cyclone Titli made a landfall. It said all schools and colleges in the state will be shut for the next two days, and students union elections in colleges scheduled for Thursday have been cancelled.

The Centre also rushed nearly 1,000 National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) personnel to Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal on Wednesday besides issuing directions for storage of food, fuel and maintaining power supply and telecommunication line.

Cyclone Luban hits Goa beach shacks

Meanwhile, in Panaji, the Goa Tourism Department issued an advisory, urging tourists not to venture into the sea after high tides fuelled by Cyclone Luban swallowed large stretches of Goa’s beaches damaging beach shacks on Thursday.

“Tourists have been advised not to venture into the sea till October 14. Shack operators are advised to check the sea water condition and the rise in water levels and take appropriate precautions for the safety and security of the tourists,” a tourism department spokesperson said in a statement.

Unusually high tides have affected the beaches of Betalbatim and Majorda in South Goa.

The popular stretches of Candolim-Calangute have also been inundated reducing the beach space available for recreation.

First Published: Oct 11, 2018 15:36 IST