Cyclone Phailin with a windspeed of 220 kmph is turning into a super cyclone before making landfall on Saturday evening near Gopalpur in Odisha where the government has galvanised its machinery to deal with its impact and is evacuating people from low-lying areas.
“The US Navy has also forecast that the wind speed will be above 240 kmph. Therefore,the cyclone is not less than any super cyclone for us,” Special Relief Commissioner Commissioner P K Mohapatra said.
Mohapatra said the IMD had declared the 1999 calamity as a super cyclone as the wind speed had crossed 220 kmph.
“This time around,the wind speed is not much different than the previous super cyclone,” he said.
Squalls with a wind speed of 45-55 kmph to 65 kmph have already started along Odisha coast since morning.
“It would increase in intensity with gale wind speeds reaching 210-220 kmph along and off south Odisha at the time of landfall,” the IMD said in a bulletin categorised as an Orange Message.
It would make landfall near Gopalpur in Ganjam district tomorrow evening after crossing an area between Paradip in Odisha and Kalingapatnam in Andhra Pradesh.
The IMD said the cyclone over east central Bay of Bengal remained stationary and lay 520 km south-southeast of Paradip and 530 km southeast of Gopalpur.
64,000 people evacuated
As many as 64,000 people in the north coastal districts of Srikakulam,Vizianagaram,Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh are being evacuated to safer places as ‘super cyclone’ Phailin is expected to hit the Bay of Bengal coast between Srikakulam and Gopalpur in Odisha by Saturday evening.
More than 40,000 villagers were evacuated from coastal areas along India’s eastern seaboard and state officials reached out to the military for help as they prepared Friday for a massive cyclone spinning in the Bay of Bengal.
Using trucks and buses,authorities evacuated 40,000 people from 40 villages to government-run shelters,schools and buildings in five districts of Orissa state,said Surya Narayan Patra,the state revenue and disaster management minister.
Officials have been stockpiling emergency food supplies,and setting up shelters for people expected to flee the heavy winds and rains.
Waves up to 7 feet predicted
Weather forecasters had been predicting waves up to 7 feet (2 meters),but warned that the storm has been gaining strength and its impact could be severe.
However,the IMD forecast a storm surge of 2.5 meter to 3.0 meter in Ganjam,Khurda,Puri and Jagatsinghpur districts.
A storm surge is a rise of the sea as a result of atmospheric pressure changes and winds associated with a storm.
Navy,Airforce set for relief
Local Cautionary (LC-III) has been hoisted in all the ports in the state.The Navy,Airforce,NDRF,ODRF were ready for relief and rescue operation as soon as the cyclone hit the coast,Mohapatra said.
A worried state government held meetings and evaluated the changed circumstances.
“At least 28 teams of the National Disaster Response Forces are at the disposal of the Odisha government for evacuation and relief operations,” a senior official said after one such meeting.
So far eight teams of NDRF,reaching having 20 personnel,have been deployed in Puri district,the official said.
Revenue and Disaster Management Minister S N Patro said district collectors have been told to complete evacuation of people by this evening.
(With inputs from PTI/AP)