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Cyclone Laila weakening as it inches closer to Andhra coast

The Andhra Pradesh coast may escape severe battering by cyclonic storm Laila that is showing signs of weakening before hitting the seashore. However, heavy rains with gales brought normal life to a halt in the coastal region. Helpline numbers for Vijaywada: 0866-2767295, 0866-2767077, 0866-2767078Map | Latest satellite imagery | Laila's fury: In pics | Listen to Podcast

india Updated: May 20, 2010 16:24 IST

Over 40,000 people were evacuated from low-lying areas of Andhra Pradesh even as cyclone Laila appeared to be weakening gradually today and is expected the cross the state's coast near Machilipatnam.

Laila remained "practically stationary" and lay centered some 200 km south off Machilipatnam coast and is likely to hit the mainland by the afternoon, according to the latest bulletin released by the MeT department.

"The system is showing signs of weakening due to increase of wind shear and land interaction," the Met bulletin

However, the threat has not subsided fully yet as gales with speeds of over 115 km in the coastal areas may
cause a lot of damage, a senior official of the Disaster Management Department here said.

"We have already moved about 40000 people from vulnerable villages to safety and many more will be shifted
based on need," he said.

Defence Minister A K Antony said, "The armed forces were always ready to help the civil administration whenever
they are in distress."

"Whatever help is needed from the Navy and the other armed forces, we will extend," he said.

Nellore, Prakasam, Guntur, Krishna, West Godavari and East Godavari districts are likely to bear the brunt of the
cyclonic storm even as heavy to extremely heavy rain has been forecast in the coastal districts in the next 36 hours.

Chief Minister K Rosaiah monitored the situation through the night and held a tele-conference with district collectors to review the rescue operations and preparedness of the government machinery.

The Chief Minister directed that adequate stocks of essential commodities be kept ready in all the affected

He also asked the collectors to make food and medical arrangements for people in relief camps.

Director of Cyclone Warning Centre in Vishakapatnam Prasad Rao said, "The cyclone is located at about 120 km
south of Machalipatnam and is likely to move in a northerly direction. The gale force winds associated with the cyclone is about 100-110 kms per hour. They show some signs of weakening.

"Cyclone is likely to hit the Andhra Coast more severely than Tamil Nadu with a speed of 100 kmph. We have
already advised low lying areas of the four districts of Guntur, Krishna, East and West Godavari districts to be on an
alert," he said.

Meanwhile, heavy rains triggered by cyclone Laila badly disrupted normal life in East Godvari district.

Air, train and bus services were thrown out of gear in the district. A number of trains passing through the district
are running late due to submergence of rail tracks at several places.

The coastal district experienced heavy rains last evening, but there was some relief as downpour stopped this
morning. Several areas were plunged into darkness and communication systems snapped.

Collector M Ravichandra said the cyclonic storm was likely to cross Kakinada at 1800 hrs. He said the situation is
being monitored regularly and all precautionary steps have been taken to deal with any eventuality.

The government has appointed a Special Officer to coordinate with the district administration in relief and
rescue operations.

First Published: May 20, 2010 10:39 IST