Hyderabad: Andhra Pradesh is bracing for severe cyclonic storm Phailin, set to hit the north Andhra Pradesh and Odisha coast between Kalingapatnam and Paradip by Saturday night, officials said Thursday.
A high alert was sounded in all nine coastal districts of the state with authorities taking measures to minimize the damage. Special officers were deputed to the districts to work out with local officials plans for evacuation of people from low-lying areas close to the coast, and coordination with National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) in rescue operations.
State Minister for Revenue, Relief and Rehabilitation N. Raghuveera Reddy said district officials were directed to alert the army, navy and air force for taking up rescue work, if and wherever required.
According to a bulletin of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) issued Thursday morning, the cyclonic storm over east central Bay of Bengal moved slightly northwestwards, and intensified further and lay centred at about 850 km southeast of Paradip, 900 km eastsouth-east of Kalingapatnam, and 950 km east-southeast of Visakhapatnam.
"The system would intensify into a severe cyclonic storm during next 12 hours. It would continue to move northwestwards and cross north Andhra Pradesh and Odisha coast between Kalingapatnam and Paradip by the night of Oct 12, 2013 as a very severe cyclonic storm with a maximum sustained wind speed of 175-185 kmph," it said.
Visakhapatnam Cyclone Warning Centre has forecast heavy to very heavy rainfall under the impact of the cyclone, and warned fishermen against venturing into sea.
A second warning signal was hoisted at all ports along the nearly 1,000-km stretch of coast.
National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) M. Sasidhar Reddy said that since it was a severe cyclone, (next in intensity only to a super cyclone), its impact would be felt on the entire coast.
He appealed to government employees in coastal Andhra to call off their strike on humanitarian grounds, and participate in relief and rehabilitation work.
The leaders of striking employees assured Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy during talks Wednesday that employees of revenue, panchayati raj and other departments would participate in relief and rehabilitation work wherever required, even while continuing to strike.
Over six lakh employees in coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema have been on strike the past two months to oppose the central government's decision to carve out a separate Telangana state.