Cyclone Laila intensifies; thousands evacuated

Nearly 30,000 people were evacuated from low-lying areas in coastal Andhra Pradesh.

Hyderabad/Chennai: Nearly 30,000 people
were evacuated on Wednesday from low-lying areas in coastal Andhra
Pradesh as Cyclone Laila packing wind speed of 125 kmph is
said to slam the state as also Tamil Nadu where heavy rains
and gales threw normal life out of gear.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister K Rosaiah tonight spoke to
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on phone and requisitioned the
armed forces to help the civil administration in rescue
efforts as the Met department warned of six-foot high tidal
waves and disruption of communication and power supplies.

Three persons were killed when a shed collapsed in a
village in Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh while a
fisherman drowned in rough sea in Tamil Nadu, as the two states
were lashed by heavy rains under the influence of Laila which
lay centred 200-km from Machhlipatnam expected to be the
landfall point of the cyclone.

Authorities moved hundreds of residents of 777 villages
in four coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh to schools and
government buildings for temporary shelter and alerted the
emergency teams.

The coastal regions of Andhra, including Guntur,
Nellore, Prakasam, East and West Godavari districts,
experienced heavy rains throughout the day under the influence
of the storm.

Warning number 10 (high state of alert) has been issued
to all major ports in Andhra Pradesh and Reliance Industries
suspended crude oil and gas production from its Krishna
Godavari basin MA fields in the Bay of Bengal as a
precautionary measure.

Normal life was thrown into disarray in several parts
of Tamil Nadu as widespread rains and strong winds, triggered
by Laila, lashed these areas.

People waded through knee-deep water as many parts of
Chennai and its suburbs were inundated with road traffic
moving at snail`s peace.

Gales uprooted trees at many places while over 140
anchored boats were damaged by strong winds.

Coastal areas of Chennai, Nagapattinam, Cuddalore,
Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur were lashed by heavy rains since
last night.

Four fishermen were injured when five boats capsized
in Cuddalore district, officials said.

The cyclonic storm is likely to trigger heavy rains
at some places in south and north Orissa tomorrow.

Weathermen also predicted heavy rains in Gangetic West
Bengal from tomorrow evening.

West Bengal Finance Minister Asim Dasgupta said an
alert has been sounded in the metropolis and the districts of
East Midnapore, North and South 24 Parganas, Howrah, Hooghly
and Nadia.