Millennium Post

Cyclone Phailin hits Odisha and AP, causes massive damage to property

Communication links have been vastly disrupted by the strong winds that went upto a speed of 220 kmph when the very severe cyclonic storm, feared to be the worst in 14 years, crossed the coast near Gopalpur last night and weakened towards becoming a depression.

Authorities in the state evacuated nearly nine lakh people, the largest in recent history, ahead of the storm to cyclone shelters and public buildings like schools to avoid a repeat of the disastrous 1999 super cyclone that had left 9,885 people dead.

"We are on the whole quite satisfied with the type of evacuation that was done," Vice Chairman of National Disaster Management Authority M Shashidhar Reddy said. In Gopalpur, where the storm struck first, "almost 90-95 per cent people had been evacuated".

Defence and paramilitary personnel were deployed to carry out relief and rehabilitation measures and restoring infrastructure badly affected by the storm.

Seven people were killed in Odisha before the cyclone made the landfall last night due to fall of trees while one person was killed in Andhra Pradesh in a house collapse in Srikakulam district.

The IMD said in New Delhi that Phailin has weakened into a cyclonic storm with wind speed between 60 and 70 kmph. It is currently close to Jharsuguda in north Odisha.

Ahead of the storm, there were fears that casualties could be heavy with predictions by US Navy that the storm could reach a speed of 300 kmph but the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) on Sunday said it stood vindicated by its forecasts.

The IMD had throughout maintained that the current storm was a "very severe cyclone" which will pack a speed of 200 to 220 kmph and not a super cyclone.

The cyclone weakened on Sunday morning and was moving northwards and will settle into a deep depression by the evening. Under its impact, heavy rains lashed coastal districts of Puri, Balasore, Jagatsinghpur, Cuttack and Sambalpur in inland Odisha, parts of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said the primary aim was to minimise loss of human lives and they have successfully managed to do so.

"Property to the tune of several crores has been damaged... Rehabilitation will now be done," he said.

Giving details of the devastation caused by the cyclone, Odisha Revenue Minister S N Patro said 14,514 villages in 12 districts have been affected, hitting a population of 80,53,620.

Over 2.34 lakh houses have been damaged and more than 8.73 lakh people have been evacuated.

Over five lakh hectares of standing crops have been destroyed by the gushing waters causing an estimated loss of Rs 2,400 crore, he said.

Extensive damage has also been caused to 'kutcha' houses besides partial disruption of power, communication lines and rail and road traffic in various parts of Odisha, particularly in Ganjam district, which faced the storm's onslaught.

Thousands of trees and poles were uprooted in Bhubaneshwar and several buildings have got weakened in Parampur town, above 20 kms from Gopalpur, Patro said.

"Now the challenge is before the administration is rehabilitation," he said.

In Andhra Pradesh, a 60-year-old man died in Bulivadu village of Srikakulam district following heavy downpour unleashed by the severe storm. A 27-year-old fisherman died in his sleep in the early hours today in a relief camp at Kaviti, a state disaster management official said.

A flood warning has been issued in Bihar as widespread rains are expected in its wake.

Srikakulam Collector Saurabh Gaur said 39 villages in the cyclone-affected areas are surrounded by water.

Kolkata Port Trust Chairman RPS Kahlon said that cargo ship MV Bingo is believed to have sunk in the rough seas caused by Phailin with its crew on a lifeboat last sighted east of Sagar in West Bengal.

"The Panama-registered cargo ship MV Bingo is feared sunk as the crew was sighted on a lifeboat yesterday east of Sagar, 25km from the coast," he said.
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