Phailin leaves trail of destruction, cyclone intensity weakens
Gopalpur/Srikakulam: Severe cyclonic storm `Phailin`, which forced the evacuation of over eight lakh people, left a trail of destruction in coastal areas of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh and disrupted communication lines before weakening considerably on Sunday.
Though seven deaths have been reported in Odisha, they took place as uprooted trees fell on locals before the cyclone made a landfall, Odisha Revenue and Disaster Minister SN Patro said in Bhubaneshwar.
There were no major casualties though Phailin was no less than a super cyclone as large-scale evacuation of people to storm shelters prevented a repeat of the 1999 super cyclone that claimed nearly 10,000 lives.
The National Disaster Response Force said no casualties have been reported so far due to the cyclone, which had pounded the Odisha coast yesterday, bringing in its wake torrential rains and wind speeds of over 200 kmph in the state and in neighbouring north coastal Andhra Pradesh.
"Our teams are out in both Odisha and Andhra Pradesh for rescue and relief operations. So far we have not received any report of casualties anywhere," NDRF chief Krishna Chowdhary told a news agency in New Delhi.
The cyclone left a trail of destruction with massive damage to property reported in Odisha. Thousands of trees and poles were uprooted in Bhubaneshwar, the Odisha Minister said.
Several big buildings were shaken in Parampur town, above 20 kms from Gopalpur, when the cyclone hit the area, Parto said.
National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) vice-chairman M Shashidhar Reddy said, "Wind speed in Gopalpur where the eye of the cyclone passed through has come down to 90-100 kmph at 8 am. We are still trying to assess the devastation caused by the disaster."
Presently, the system is close to Phulwani in Kandhamal and is moving at a speed of 20 kms per hour, the IMD said.
"The system would move northwards for some more time and weaken gradually into a cyclonic storm by noon today and into a deep depression by evening," said IMD Bhubaneshwar Director Sarat Sahu.
However, rains will continue in interior part of Odisha.
In Srikakulam in Andhra Pradesh, relief operations have been launched in full swing as heavy rains coupled with strong winds continue to lash most parts of the coastal area.
Srikakulam Collector Saurabh Gaur said 39 villages in the cyclone-affected areas are surrounded by water.
The Srikakulam district administration heaved a sigh of relief as no casualty has been reported in the past 12 hours after the cyclone made a landfall.
Prashant Dar, Commandant, National Disaster Relief Force, said people, who have been given shelter in relief camps, have been provided with food, medicine and other essential material.
The teams of NDRF, which is tasked to minimize the loss on all fronts, intensified their operations since morning while the Indian Navy has also been put on alert.
"We have started rescue operations since 6 am as the weather relented a bit. We have received reports the 110 people stranded in two locations where our teams are on their way to rescue them," he said.
Hundreds of trees have been uprooted in cyclone-affected areas and fell on road causing traffic disruption.
NDRF personnel are trying to remove blockades to clear the way.
As a precautionary measure, power supply to some parts of the district was stopped as tens of electrical poles in those areas collapsed.
Fishermen in coastal districts of the state have been advised not to venture into sea for hunting.The loss of agriculture and other properties is yet to be estimated.
More than 3,000 personnel of NDRF have been deployed in both the states and efforts are on to rescue those who were trapped under the debris.
He said there were two reports from Andhra Pradesh where some people have been trapped and NDRF teams have rushed to the spot to rescue them.
The NDRF chief said initial reports suggested that due to the impact of the cyclone, buildings and some communication towers were destroyed.
The NDMA vice-chairman said the situation in Gopalpur in Odisha`s Ganjam district appeared to be encouraging and the wind-speed has come down significantly and the National Disaster Response Force was trying to assess the damage there.
According to M Mohapatra, Scientist (Cyclone Warning) with the IMD, by 5.30 am on Sunday morning the cyclone started showing signs of weakening with the wind speed reducing to 160-170 kmph.He however, added that it is still a "very severe cyclonic storm".
Reddy said the wind-speed at neighbouring Berhampur, which is around 20 kms away from Gopalpur, was around 70-80 kmph at 8 am today.
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