One killed as cyclone Phethai barrels through coastal AP

Amaravati: Cyclone Phethai barrelled through coastal Andhra Pradesh on Monday, triggering heavy rains, uprooting trees and electric poles, and claiming one life, officials said.

A boat carrying seven fishermen went missing in the Bay of Bengal off Visakhapatnam, even as Phethai crossed the coast in East Godavari district and moved towards Odisha after weakening gradually, the Chief Ministers Office said Monday night.

Train and air services were also disrupted because of the cyclone.

State HRD Minister Ganta Srinivasa Rao apprised Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu of the situation during a review meeting the latter conducted late in the night at the Real-Time Governance Centre (RTGS) at the state Secretariat.

No further details have, however, been disclosed.

East Godavari district bore the brunt of the storm as it made landfall near Katrenikona in the afternoon, forcing evacuation of 20,000 people, who have been sheltered in relief camps.

Howling winds that gusted up to 85-90 kmph uprooted electric poles and trees in Katrenikona, Tallarevu and Malkipuram in East Godavari, disrupting power supply. No casualties were, however, reported.

A man named R Durga Rao aged 28 was killed when a loosened soil hurtled down a hillock following heavy rains in Vijayawada city, according to sources in the state’s Disaster Management Authority.

Krishna district Collector B Lakshmi Kantham announcednan immediate relief of Rs 50,000 to the deceased’s family.

Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu later told reporters his government could restore normalcy within hours after the cyclone crossed the coast.

At the same time, Naidu lashed out at the Centre, saying it remained “totally indifferent” even as the state government undertook various measures to handle the cyclone.

A report on the damage caused by the cyclone would be sent to the Centre, he said.

Krishna district Collector B Lakshmi Kantham announced an immediate relief of Rs 50,000 to the deceased’s family.

Deputy Chief Minister (Home) N China Rajappa is camping at Bhairavapalem village in East Godavari district to oversee relief and rescue operations.

The Real-Time Governance Centre said ‘Phethai’ weakened after making landfall.

Chief Executive Officer of the RTGS Babu Ahamed said pracautionary steps taken by the authorities had minimised damage to life and property.

He said trees were uprooted in some 20 places and rescue teams had cleared the debris in 15.

Spare electric poles were kept ready, he said.

The South Central Railway cancelled and rescheduled several trains, while air traffic to and from the port city of Visakhapatnam was hit by turbulent weather conditions. Some flights had to be cancelled or diverted to Hyderabad.

Over 20 express and passenger trains were cancelled, SCR’s chief public relations officer M Uma Shankar Kumar said.

An Indigo flight from Bengaluru that was to land in Visakhapatnam on Monday morning was diverted to Hyderabad.

An Indian Airlines flight on way to Visakhapatnam from Hyderabad was sent back, while an Indigo flight from New Delhi was diverted to Telangana capital, according to Visakhapatnam airport director.

A Hyderabad-Visakhapatnam Spicejet flight was cancelled while several others of different airliners were rescheduled.

Educational institutions were closed in coastal districts as a precautionary measure.

Yanam, an enclave of the Union Territory of Puducherry in AP’s East Godavari district, was pounded by very heavy rains under the influence of the cyclone.

Regional Administrator D Subramaneswar Rao told PTI that the heavy rain caused inundation of paddy fields besides disrupting normal life.

Puducherry Health and Tourism Minister Malladi Krishna Rao coordinated relief and rehabilitation works.