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Heavy rains lash Odisha's coast as the state braces for Cyclone Phailin

The woman identified as Jayanti Raut (42) died after a tree fell on her in the morning amid gusty winds, while she was plucking flowers near her house, said special relief commissioner P K Mohapatra.

"18 fishermen were reported trapped around 4km from Paradip in the sea on a fishing trawler. Though they contacted the Coast Guard, rescue operations could not be conducted as the sea is extremely rough. We have contacted the authorities of IOC and have sought help from their rescue team," said state revenue and disaster minister S N Patro.

Revenue Divisional Commissioner (Central Division) Arvind Padhee has been asked to coordinate rescue operations of these trapped fishermen and "we have asked the police to trace the owner of the trawler and arrest him," Patro said.

More than 3.61 lakh people have already been evacuated from the six coastal districts of Odisha. 1.2 lakh people have been shifted from the coastal belt of Ganjam and Gopalpur areas, Mohapatra said.

Reports from Puri said that sea water gushed into Tandaghar and Keutajanga villages of Astarang and Brahmagiri blocks in the district last evening, even as the administration shifted people to safer places.

Though the district administration evacuated around 45,000 people from the coast to safe places, a large number of fishermen, who were shifted from Chandrabhaga and Konark, returned.

"It was a major cause of concern for us," an official engaged in evacuation operation said.

Although roads leading to the 12th century Jagannath Temple wore a deserted look, all the intricate rituals were continuing and the temple administration said darshan of the deities was on.

The Puri district administration had vacated about 400 hotels in the city and the pilgrims were advised to move to Bhubaneswar or other places. Passenger buses and trains originating from Puri were ferrying hundreds of tourists in anticipation of the cyclone.

A report from Paradip said the port town was experiencing heavy rains accompanied by windspeed and high tides were lashing the coast.

Production in the industries including PPT, PPL, IIFCO had been stopped and many workers fled the place out of fear during the last two days, anticipating that the port town might be battered by the imminent cyclone, sources said.

Cyclonic storm Phailin is currently positioned just 260 km off the coast of Gopalpur in Odisha, which is likely to be epicentre of the storm.

With a wind speed of 210-220 kmph, the tides could rise up to 3.5 meters and sea water could enter 300-600 meters in land, the IMD said.

The Special Relief Commissioner said personnel of Army, Navy, Air Force, NDRF and state's ODRAF have taken position at vulnerable points.

"Though IMD's forecast say wind speed would be within 220 kmph, we are taking steps keeping an eye on the US Navy's prediction which estimates a wind speed of about 240 to 260 kmph. This apart, the storm surge of above three meters (about 15 feet) is a cause of concern for us," said Mohapatra.

He said the eye of the storm was about 40 km, which was another cause of concern for the state government as it could cause massive devastation along the entire coastal region.

As per the latest bulletin issued by the IMD under Red Message category, Cyclone Phailin moved northwestwards during past six hours with a speed of 15 kmph.

"The slow movement of the system is also another cause of concern," a senior official said.

Great Danger Signal Number Ten (GD-X) for Gopalpur and Puri and Great Danger Signal Number Nine (GD-IX) for Paradip and Chandbali Ports have been hoisted.

NDRF DIG SS Guleria, who attended a review meeting here said altogether 29 teams have been deployed at vulnerable areas in coastal districts. All teams are provided with High Frequency (HF) communication for linkage with the headquarter to ensure connectivity with the teams on the ground.

Besides, nine satellite phones have been given to the teams deployed in most vulnerable places, he said.

NDMA says 2000 NDRF personnel deployed in Odhisa, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal

New Delhi: Bracing for cyclone Phailin which is expected to hit the east coast this evening, NDMA today said it has deployed nearly 2,000 personnel of the National Disaster Response Force in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal.

Nearly 4.4 lakh people have been evacuated from danger zones so far in Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. "This might be the second biggest evacuation exercise undertaken since 1990 when six lakh people were evacuated in Andhra Pradesh," National Disaster Management Authority Vice-Chairman M Shashidhar Reddy told reporters here.

He said over 50 rescue teams with nearly 2,000 personnel have been put in place in Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal.

Rescue and relief teams have been positioned in vulnerable coastal areas of the three states. Some additional teams have also been kept as reserve.

29 teams of NDRF have been deployed along with rescue equipment in Odisha. In Andhra Pradesh, 15 teams have been deployed and four additional teams are also being rushed from Tamil Nadu, while seven teams have been deployed in West Bengal.

The teams have been equipped with satellite phones and wireless sets to maintain smooth communication, in case normal communication lines are affected due to the cyclone.
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