Cyclone Hudhud unleashed its full fury with devastating effect on Visakhapatnam Sunday, making landfall at noon and hurling through neighbouring areas, ripping apart coastal cities and towns and leaving a trail of destruction. Massive evacuation ensured that the death toll was restricted to three.
Heavy rain that followed the winds flooded low-lying areas and cut off road, rail, power and telecom lines.
In a statement in Delhi, the India Meteorological Department said the cyclone had lost its intensity by evening as it moved further 60 km northwest of Visakhapatnam.
Hudhud, which was so far a very severe cyclonic storm, is now a severe cyclone. Its speed is now limited to 100-110 kmph, said M Mahapatra, a scientist at the Cyclone Warning Division of IMD.
Visakhapatnam and nearby areas bore the brunt of the cyclone as it slammed into the coast at wind speed exceeding 180 kmph, rising up to 200 kmph. Lakhs of trees were uprooted, blocking traffic on important national and state highways, as well as city roads in Visakhapatnam. Telephone and power lines were bent out of shape in the wind’s wake.
Coastal areas such as Vizianagaram, Srikakulam and East Godavari were also badly affected. While high-tension electricity wires were hanging about everywhere, fortunately there is no power since Friday night in Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram, Srikakulam and East and West Godavari.
Hundreds of police and NDRF personnel rescued people stuck in vehicles on highways, especially NH 9, through which officials claim the eye of the storm passed. Signboards, hoardings, sheets of metal and glass lay all over the road.
Window panes of buildings, galass facades of malls and showrooms, windshields of vehicles all shattered under the force of the wind in Visakhapatnam, a city of steel and port, spreading panic.
The rain that followed inundated lakhs of acres of cultivated land, with damage expected to paddy, banana and other crops. Low-lying areas up to 50 km inside were flooded.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu asked the Centre to declare the storm a national calamity and sought an ad hoc relief package of Rs 2,000 crore.
Earlier, Modi spoke to Naidu and promised Andhra Pradesh all possible assistance. The PM asked Home Minister Rajnath Singh to be in touch with CMs of states likely to be affected by Hudhud.
The National Crisis Management Committee, that met Sunday evening under Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth and reviewed the situation in both Andhra Pradesh and Orissa, said the cyclone has “considerably damaged” communication services and affected power supplies.