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Worst of cyclone Hudhud over, rain remains the worry

Cyclone Hudhud pounded the coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha with heavy rain and winds of almost 195 kmph leaving six people dead and a trail of devastation with Visakhapatnam, where the very severe storm made landfall, bearing the brunt. NDRF helplines: 01126107953; 09711077372

india Updated: Oct 13, 2014 08:57 IST

Cyclone Hudhud whipped the coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha on Sunday killing six people, with heavy rain and winds of 195 km per hour uprooting trees and damaging buildings.

Mass evacuation in the two states minimised damage to life but rain was emerging as a big worry.

Hudhud lost its intensity by evening and its speed was limited to 100-110 kmph and converted from a very severe cyclonic storm to severe storm, the IMD said on Sunday night.

However, heavy downpour was reported from the eastern parts of Andhra and southern districts of Odisha. Similar weather conditions were predicted for eastern Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh.

High-velocity winds hammered Andhra’s port city of Visakhapatnam, home to two million people and a naval base, as Hudhud made landfall at around 10:40am.

“We are unable to ascertain the situation. Seventy percent of communication has totally collapsed ... this is the biggest calamity,” Andhra chief minister Chandrababu Naidu told a TV channel.

Classified as a very severe cyclone, Hudhud left glass, asbestos and uprooted trees scattered all around the city, better known as Vizag.

Read: Revellers ignore warnings as Hudhud frenzy grips AP, Odisha

Seventeen ships were moved offshore while the airport was closed and train services suspended.

“I never imagined that a cyclone could be so dangerous and devastating,” Reuters quoted one businessman, who was staying in a Vizag hotel, as saying. “The noise it is making would terrify anyone.”

Winds also destroyed electric poles in the adjoining Srikakulam and Vizianagaram districts, plunging the area into darkness. A few thatched houses were also blown away.

Mobile phones and internet connections were down and heavy congestion in telecom traffic also contributed to the communication blackout.

Hours before the storm crossed the coast, a man was killed in Visakhapatnam’s Kondram village in a wall collapse, another died when a tree came crashing down on him.

A death was also reported from Srikakulam district.

Angry winds and heavy rain pounded the area for more than nine hours though the India Meteorological Department had predicted the cyclone conditions would prevail for six hours.

In the state capital Hyderabad, Naidu chaired a high-level meeting to review the situation. He asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to declare the cyclone as a national calamity and requested an immediate relief of R2,000 crore.

The chief minister said that Andhra Pradesh government, for the first time in India, is using space technology with the help of Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) and National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) in disaster management.

The state government has created a Facebook page called 'AP Disaster Management' for which Facebook and Google have promoted and verified the page within an hour of its launch.

The government has also created #HudhudAP to reach out to people and get information from them on Twitter and Facebook. It is also using Whatsapp extensively.

At least 200,000 people in four districts along the coastal belt were shifted to relief camps as a precautionary measure.

In neighbouring Odisha, the government had evacuated more than 156,000 people in eight districts, moving them to cyclone shelters.

Two deaths were reported from Kendrapara while sea swept away a man in Puri, officials said. CM Naveen Patnaik reviewed rescue and relief operations. “We are constantly monitoring the situation and taking all possible precautions,” Patnaik said.

With the southern districts of Ganjam, Gajapati and Kandhamal receiving heavy rainfall, the local administration started preparations for floods if such a situation arises.

Read: Heavy rainfall triggers flood worries

Odisha special relief commissioner P K Mohapatra said they were keeping a watch on the situation and expected the rain to subside by Monday morning. “There is no report of damage to any major installations,” Mahapatra said.

As many 26 teams — 16 of the National Disaster Response Force and 10 of the Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force — have been deployed in vulnerable places for rescue work, according to chief secretary GC Pati.

“We have been assured by the Centre that army teams will be ready at Raipur in Chhattisgarh and five choppers at Kalaikunda in West Bengal for our call,” he said.

As a precautionary measure, East Coast Railways cancelled train services on Bhubaneswar-Visakhapatnam route, while the state government stopped bus service in Ganjam, Gajapati, Rayagada, Nabarangpur and parts of Kalahandi. Private bus operators have also been asked not to operate on Monday.

According to the IMD, peak wind speeds would drop to 60 kmph by Monday afternoon. Hudhud is expected to continue to dump heavy rains in northern and northeastern India and, eventually, snow when it reaches the Himalayan mountains.

The National Crisis Management Committee met Sunday to review the situation.”According to preliminary assessment…, the communication services and power and electricity have been considerably damaged in the affected districts,” an official statement said in Delhi.

Read: Lesson learnt, hundreds of lives saved

(With inputs from Agencies)

First Published: Oct 12, 2014 08:28 IST