More than 200,000 people are evacuated from India’s Orissa state alone ahead of Saturday’s expected landfall of a massive cyclone strengthening in the Bay of Bengal.
Cyclone Phailin, categorised as “very severe” by weather forecasters, is expected to hit Orissa and Andhra Pradesh states on Saturday evening.
The Meteorological Department has predicted the storm will bring winds up to 220 km/h (136mph). However, the US Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Hawaii is forecasting even stronger winds, predicting sustained speeds of up to 269 km/h (167 mph).
Thousands of people living in vulnerable areas along the coastline in Orissaa and Andhra Pradesh were evacuated, several trains cancelled and armed forces put on standby as the ‘very severe cyclonic storm’, Phailin, with a wind speed close to that of a super cyclone is set to cross the coast on Saturday evening.
Accompanied by very heavy rains of up to 25 cm, the storm is expected to cross the coast somewhere between Kalingapatnam in north A.P. and Paradeep in Odisha, close to Gopalpur by Saturday evening and cause heavy destruction to roads, communication lines and crops. The East Coast Railway cancelled or regulated 24 trains even as coastal areas started experiencing rains.
About 40,000 people in Visakhapatnam, 4,000 in Vizianagaram and 20,000 in Srikakulam districts of Andhra Pradesh were evacuated. IAF choppers and transport aircraft were kept ready even as Army and Navy teams were on standby to take up rescue and relief operations.
A deadly super-cyclone in 1999 killed more than 10,000 people in Orissa.