Cyclone ‘Phethai’ hits Andhra coast, triggers heavy rains

Visakhapatnam, Dec 17 (IANS) Cyclonic storm ‘Phethai crossed the Andhra Pradesh coast in East Godavari district on Monday, causing widespread rains, uprooting trees, paralyzing transport and damaging crops.

‘Phethai’ made the landfall near Katrinekonda in East Godavari district with a wind speed of 80 kmph and re-emerged into the Bay of Bengal before crossing the coast between Kakinada and Yanam, an enclave of Puducherry in the same district.

Authorities heaved a sigh of relief as no loss of life was reported till Monday evening. The coastal region was also spared of major losses, barring damages to standing crops over hundreds of acres.

According to officials at the Visakhapatnam Cyclone Warning Centre, the severe cyclonic storm weakened due to unfavourable environmental conditions and crossed the coast as cyclonic storm. After crossing the coast, it moved towards Odisha.

The incessant rains accompanied by gusty winds lashing the coastal district since Sunday inundated low-lying areas, disrupted electricity and drinking water supply throwing normal life out of gear. The cyclone also paralysed road, rail and air traffic in the region.

East Godavari District Collector Kartikeya Mishra said electricity supply was disrupted to 99 villages and it would be restored soon.

Over 5,000 people from some coastal and low-lying villages were shifted to relief camps opened by the East Godavari district administration.

Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu monitored the situation from Real Time Governance Society (RTGS) control room in Amaravati.

Home Minister N. Chinna Rajappa, who monitored the situation at the Collector’s office in Kakinada, said all measures were taken to tackle the situation. He said efforts were on to restore normalcy in the affected areas.

RTGS officials said the measures taken by the authorities and the precaution by people ensured that there was no loss of life and also minimised the property damage.

National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) and naval helicopters were on standby along with 10,000 government employees as part of disaster preparedness.

Rescue workers were busy removing fallen trees, electric poles and debris from roads to restore vehicular traffic.

Turbulent weather conditions forced the authorities to cancel 14 flights to the port city of Visakhapatnam and divert many others to Hyderabad. Over 700 passengers were stranded at Visakhapatnam airport due to cancellation of flights.

A holiday was declared for all educational institutions in the coastal region. Authorities also suspended long-distance bus services and cancelled over 50 trains as a precaution.

The cyclone, the second to hit Andhra coast this year, had its impact on seven out of nine coastal districts. The rains inundated roads and low-lying areas in Vijayawada, bringing vehicular traffic to a halt.

‘Phethai’ also had impact on neighbouring Telangana state with heavy rains lashing many districts. Paddy, cotton and other agriculture produce brought by farmers to the markets for sale were damaged.

The weather in Greater Hyderabad was cloudy and chilled. Parts of the city experienced showers.

–IANS

ms/mr

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