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Laila hits AP: 7 dead,51,000 evacuated

Prakasam district bore the brunt of cyclone Laila that made landfall with heavy rains and high-speed winds causing havoc.

Written by Sreenivas Janyala | Hyderabad |
May 21, 2010 12:20:16 am

Prakasam district bore the brunt of cyclone Laila that made landfall on Thursday afternoon with heavy rains and high-speed winds causing havoc in six coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh. The state government has re-deployed all the 12 units of the National Disaster Response Force to Prakasam district,along with 80 boats for rescue and relief operations. Seven persons have died so far. Two persons were reported missing in Krishna district.

As the storm passed over the coast,Prakasam district was battered by heavy rains. Ongole,the district headquarters,received 40 cm rains in 12 hours,inundating low-lying areas and marooning several residential colonies. High speed winds touching 120 km per hour knocked out power and telecommunication lines,leaving large areas in darkness and snapping all communication in Nellore,Prakasam,Guntur,East and West Godavari and Krishna districts.

“So far,there have been seven causalities — three in Nellore,two in East Godavari,one in Vizianagaram. Except for Ongole in Prakasam district,the situation is under control,” said Minister for Revenue and Relief D Prasada Rao.

Taking a zig-zag course,the cyclone slammed into the coast between Prakasam and Guntur districts in the afternoon. Ongole received 36-40 cm rain and Atchampet in Guntur received 27 cm of rain,which inundated low-lying villages. Officials said a catastrophe has been avoided as more than 51,000 people living in low-lying areas were evacuated on Wednesday night while thousands moved to safer places on their own.

Chief Minister K Rosaiah said the state government is prepared to meet any eventuality and that he had requisitioned the help of the Army,Air Force and Navy,who have kept relief and rescue teams on standby. “Power supply is affected in 1,492 villages and 11 towns,” he said.

Airlines have suspended all flights to Vizag and Vijayawada while trains are running late and slow on the coastal routes. Standing crops in over 4,000 hectares were destroyed. Around 255 relief camps have been set up. The state government has arranged for 1.10 lakh food packets and 3 lakh water sachets for the next 48 hours. District Collectors have sounded a red alert in 774 coastal villages.

Twelve teams of the National Disaster Response Force have been deployed in the districts.

Pak behind name ‘Laila’

*The name ‘Laila’ which means dark-haired beauty or night in Persian was suggested by Pakistan to the India Meteorological Department (IMD) which is tasked by the World Meteorological Organisation to track and name cyclones in the northern Indian Ocean,an IMD official said.

*convention of naming cyclones was started by meteorologists for easy identification and analysis of storm systems.

*Cyclones formed over the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea began to be named in 2004.

*IMD,as the Regional Specialised Meteorological Center,has the mandate to provide weather advisories to seven countries — Bangladesh,the Maldives,Myanmar,Oman,Pakistan,Thailand and Sri Lanka besides India. It also asks these countries to suggest names for the cyclones.

*64 names have been suggested so far out of which 22 have been used.

*Next cyclonic storm would be named “Bandu” drawn from the suggestions of Sri Lanka. pti

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