Hyderabad, Nov 25:
Andhra Pradesh Monday sought four helicopters and 15 additional NDRF teams from the central government besides alerting the army and the navy as it faces a second cyclone threat in less than a week.
With the cyclone Lehar threatening to hit the Andhra coast Thursday, the state government swung into action to tackle any contingency in the nine coastal districts off the Bay of Bengal.
The state has sent requisition for four helicopters to be stationed at Visakhapatnam. These will be moved wherever necessary.
C. Parthasarathi, commissioner, disaster management, told reporters that 15 additional teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) were requisitioned in addition to the 15 already deployed in the state for rescue and relief operations.
Coast Guard, Marine Police and the district superintendents of police have been asked to remain alert and assist the district administration.
Special officers were nominated for all the coastal districts to monitor the situation.
A round-the-clock control room was also opened at the state secretariat here. Its numbers are 040-23452144 and 23451043.
In view of the cyclone alert by the India Meteorological Department (IMD), all fishermen were alerted through mobile phone database available with the fisheries department against going out to sea. Those already at sea were directed to return.
Chief Secretary P.K. Mohanty, who reviewed the situation with the district collectors through a video conference, asked them to commence evacuation from areas likely to be inundated.
The severe cyclonic storm, which crossed Andaman and Nicobar Islands near Port Blair early Monday, is centred over southeast Bay of Bengal at about 1,200 km east-southeast off Machilipatnam, 1,140 km east-southeast off Kainada and 1,060 km southeast off Kalingapatnam.
“The system would intensify gradually into a very severe cyclonic storm and would move west-northwestwards and cross Andhra Pradesh coast between Machilipatnam and Kalingapatnam near Kakinada around Nov 28 (Thursday) noon,” said an IMD bulletin issued Monday evening.
Moderate rainfall at many places would commence from Wednesday afternoon over north coastal Andhra Pradesh and south coastal Odisha. The IMD has forecast heavy to very heavy rain at a few places and isolated extremely heavy rain over north coastal Andhra Pradesh Thursday.
Squall with wind speed reaching 45-55 kmph gushing to 65 kmph would commence along and off Andhra Pradesh and south Odisha coasts from Wednesday.
It would increase in intensity with gale wind speed reaching 170-180 kmph and going up to 200 kmph along and off coastal districts of north coastal Andhra Pradesh and adjoining south coastal Andhra Pradesh at the time of landfall.
The met office has warned the cyclone may cause extensive damage to houses, disrupt power and communication lines along with rail and road traffic. It may also ruin agricultural crops.
Lehar is the second cyclone threatening the state in less than a week.
Helen, which crossed Andhra coast near Machilipatnam Friday, claimed six lives and damaged crops over 4.6 lakh hectares. According to initial estimate by the disaster management department, the cyclone caused a loss of Rs.1,628 crore.
Helen struck the state before the state could recover from the damages caused by last month’s cyclone Phailin and subsequent heavy rains, which killed 58 people and damaged crops over 13 lakh hectares.
The state has sought an assistance of Rs.6,500 crore from the central government for relief and rehabilitation in areas affected by Phailin and heavy rains.
Odisha districts on alert
Although Odisha does not see major impact at this point, the Bhubaneswar Met office has asked the state government to take adequate measures against standing crops in the southern part of the state.
It has asked two state ports at Gopalpur and Paradip to keep hoisted distance warning signals and advised fishermen who are out at deep sea to return to safer places, S.C. Sahu, director of the Bhubaneswar Meteorological Centre, told IANS.
“We are keeping a close watch on the cyclone. We may issue necessary alerts to all coastal districts as and when required,” state’s special relief commissioner P.K. Mohapatra said.
“We won’t have any problem from wind point of view. There may be some rainfall. Rainfall for one day is ok because it may dry up. If it continues for three days, it may affect standing crops,” he told IANS.
The administrations of 10 coastal and southern districts have been told to remain prepared, he said.
The administration of Ganjam has been told to remain extra cautious as the region may witness heavy rain.
The latest warning has triggered fear among the coastal residents as the Bay of Bengal has already witnessed two cyclones since October.