Phailin cuts off transport and communication links; leaves 7 dead

13 Oct 2013

Cyclone Phailin, the most powerful cyclon e to hit India in over a decade, ripped into the port town of Gopalpur around 9 pm with wind speeds around 200 km per hour and battered vast areas of Odisha and neighbouring Andhra Pradesh.

The darkness all around accentuated the severity of the storm as hapless people packed into relief centres, waiting for the howling of winds, often accompanied by the cracking sound of falling trees to abate.

The severe cyclonic storm hit communication lines and power supply in Odisha. In capital Bhubaneswar, there was no power throughout last night as power supply was cut as a precautionary measure as strong winds have uprooted trees and electricity poles.

Meanwhile, the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (Incois) in Hyderabad issued a fresh high wind-wave alert for various status in connection with Cyclone Phailin.

The cyclone brought heavy downpour in coastal regions in neighbouring Srikakulam in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh.  

Despite the authorities evacuating over 6.5 lakh people to safety in the two states, an undisclosed number of people were feared stranded in some low-lying areas of Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh.

More than 2,000 people were left stranded at a high school building at Bandaravanipeta, about 2.5km from Kalingapatnam, about 150 km north of Vizag, and reports said authorities were making plans to get them to safer areas.

Reports said around seven people have died, including, an unidentified woman, whose body was fished out from the sea near Kovvada in Srikakulam on Saturday evening.

Heavy to very heavy downpour of more than 250 mm occurred in the north east parts of the coastal belt of the district along with a wind speed of 180 kmph, according to weathermen.

The heavy storm and rains wreaked havoc in areas like Itchapuram rural and Itchapuram municipality, Baruva, Sompeta, Vajrapukottur, Palasa, Kota Bommali, Gara, Kalingapatnam, Deepavali and Bandaruvanipeta in Srikakulam, where heavy lossess of property were witnessed as day broke.

While nearly 45,000 electricity poles were uprooted in Srikakulam district.

Railway sources said the tracks on the Chennai-Howrah line were partially damaged at Naupada and Sompeta, even as power supply to railway services was cut.

However, the extent of human losses were still unreported as the night went without power and some of the low lying areas were marooned.

The cyclone hit about 237 villages in 11 areas of Srikakulam district, six gram panchayats and 22 hamlets in Vizianagaram district and 67 villages in 10 mandals of Visakhapatnam district, according to official sources.

With trains and most other transport facilities cancelled and communication facilities almost crippled, there were no reported casualties involving trains or other passenger vehicles.

Five people were killed in Odisha in the heavy rains ahead of the storm.

Of them, three persons, including a woman, were killed after uprooted trees fell on them in the state capital and at Khalikote and Polsara in Ganjam district, police said.

Though Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) resumed bus services across the 13 Seemandhra districts on Saturday afternoon, buses could not be plied in the north-east parts of the district on NH-16 due to the emerging storms.

However, 22 fishing boats were yet to reach the shore till Saturday evening and efforts were underway to trace them, according to Andhra chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy.

Although the cyclone made its landfall "very close to Gopalpur town" around 9:00 pm, the severity is yet to be felt because of a lull in the storm, IMD director general L S Rathore said in New Delhi last night.

"Still there is scope the speed to go up as the cyclone will remain very severe for 6 hours. Post landfall, there will be no large change in the intensity," he said, adding that for another 12 to 24 hours, there will be moderate rains in large parts of east India.

Rains also lashed parts of West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, East UP and Bihar.

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