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Lakhs shifted as Orissa, Andhra brace for cyclone

Lakhs shifted as Orissa, Andhra brace for cyclone

Srikakulam/ Hyderabad: Cyclone Phailin, which is likely to be the strongest storms to hit India in 14 years, is set to make a landfall this evening in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh where authorities evacuated over three lakh people from vulnerable areas as the Army, Navy and NDRF took positions.

Cyclonic storm Phailin is currently positioned just 260 km off the coast of Gopalpur in Odisha, which is likely to be epicentre of the storm.

With a wind speed of 210-220 kmph, the tides could rise up to 3.5 meters and sea water could enter 300-600 meters in land, the IMD said.

"The cyclone, which is moving at the speed of 15 kmph is expected to hit the coast from 6 to 8 PM today and is likely to stay for six hours before moving ahead," L S Rathore, Director General of Meteorology told reporters in New Delhi.

Wind speed could reach up to 240 Kmph at a later stage, he said.

The department has also predicted extremely heavy rains in Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. Rains will also lash parts of West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, East UP and Bihar.

"Even after its landfall, the cyclone impact is likely to stay for 6-8 hours after which, it will turn into a cyclone and then into deep depression," he said.

Under impact of 'Phailin', the entire coastal region is being lashed by heavy rain today besides squally wind of above 70 kmph. Uprooting of electric poles and tree branches have been reported in various places.

The Odisha government has evacuated 2.5 lakh people from six coastal districts of the state and the operation has been continuing. Of the 2.5 lakh people, one lakh people alone have been taken to safer places in Gopalpur, officials said.

The districts likely to experience tidal surge are Ganjam, Puri, Khurda, Jagatsinghpur and Kendrapara. The administration of Balasore and Bhadrak have also been put on alert, Special Relief Commissioner, Odisha, P K Mohapatra said.

"We have shifted one lakh people. They are kept at safe place and provided with all necessary provisions. The administration has to forcibly evacuate some people as they were reluctant to shift," said Ganjam Collector Krishna Kumar.

While 55,000 people have been evacuated in Jagatsinghpur district, 45,000 people were evacuated in Puri and 13,000 in Bhadrak, Mohapatra said.

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