The Odisha government has declared red alert in five coastal districts and intensified preparations to combat Cyclone Titli, which is likely to hit the state on Thursday.
The cyclone is presently hovering over the Bay of Bengal, around 200 km off Gopalpur in Ganjam district, and is expected to make landfall first between Kalingapatnam in Andhra Pradesh and Gopalpur in Odisha early on Thursday morning. It is likely to move up the coastline in a north-eastern curve, gradually losing strength, officials said.
The coastal districts of Ganjam, Puri, Khurda, Kendrapara and Jagatsinghpur in Odisha are expected to be in the eye of the storm and have been put on red alert, they said.
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“Titli, which is expected to be a very severe cyclonic storm, may cause strong wind, with speed ranging between 140 and 150 kmph. It may even reach 165 kmph,” H R Biswas, director of Bhubaneswar Meteorological Centre, said. “In north coastal Odisha, wind speeds are expected to reach 70-80 kmph.”
With rainfall — up to 200 millimeters — expected to lash some districts, the state government will also monitor the possibility of floods in Rushikulya and Vamsadhara rivers. Heavy rain is expected in Cuttack, Boudh, Dhenkanal, Kalahandi, Bhadrak and Balasore.
In view of adverse weather conditions, state Chief Secretary Aditya Padhi has announced that all schools, colleges and anganwadis would remain closed on Thursday and Friday. He said student union elections scheduled on Thursday in colleges across the state have also been cancelled. Fishermen have been advised not to venture into the sea.
With Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik setting a mission “zero casualty” for the administration, the government has assembled 10 NDRF and eight Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force teams, Padhi said. Jyoti Prakash Mishra, Chief Public Relations Officer of East Coast Railways (ECoR), said that the ECoR will re-route and reschedule a number of trains.
Late in the evening, Patnaik said around 3 lakh people have been evacuated from coastal areas.