New Delhi: Cyclone Hudhud, reclassified as a 'very severe' storm by the India Meteorological Department (IMD), bears down India's east coast as it continued to gather force and is set to hit Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh on Sunday.
Post landfall, the cyclone will persist for around six hours and will be at its severity around noon time. However, it is expected to subsequently weaken over the next six hours as it will move towards Odisha and Chhattisgarh.
Around 5 lakh people in Andhra, mostly from Srikakulam and East Godavari -places expected to bear the brunt as the severe storm brews up, will be temporarily relocated to 370 relief camps that have been set up. Over 1.1 lakh people had already been moved to safer locations by Saturday.
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Reviewing the preparedness of the cyclone Hudhud in an emergency high-level meeting, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told officials to ensure that rescue and relief operations proceed smoothly and people are informed about the cyclone on a real-time basis, while also asking Home Minister Rajnath Singh to be in contact with the chief ministers of the states which are likely to be affected by the cyclone.
"He (Modi) instructed senior officers of the union government to maintain close contact and coordination with officers of the affected states to ensure that relief and rescue operations proceed smoothly. He said suitable arrangements should be made to inform people about the cyclone on a real-time basis," said the official statement.
The wind speed of the cyclonic storm was upgraded by the MeT department from 155 kmph to 195 kmph on Saturday night. MeT officials also warned that strong winds and heavy rainfall were likely to disrupt electricity and telecommunications services as well as road and rail traffic along the coast.
Coastal Andhra and south Odisha was already lashed with heavy rains on Saturday and there were reports of wall collapses and washing away of roads in the states.
Hudhud is expected to hit Vizianagaram and East Godavari in AP and Ganjam and Gajaptinagaram districts in Odisha hard.
The relief measures include deployment of teams from the armed forces and NDRF, depletion of reservoirs to accommodate cyclonic rainwater, positioning of boats, swimmers and relief camps and standby systems to restore power and telecom services, the statement said.
Train services to the coast also remained suspended due to the cyclone.