Phailin hits Andaman Nicobar islands, moves northwest

Bhubaneswar: The cyclonic storm Phailin over east central Bay of Bengal hit the Andaman and Nicobar islands and moved northwestwards on early Thursday, the MET department said. It is expected to reach the coast of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha over the next 48-72 hours, an official bulletin stated.

“The system would intensify into a severe cyclonic storm during next 24 hours. It would continue to move northwest wards and cross north Andhra Pradesh and Odisha coast between Kalingapatnam and Paradip by night of 12th October,” the latest release said.

According to officials, Distant Cautionary Signal Number One (DC-I) was hoisted at Paradip and Gopalpur ports. They have also sent advisory to fishermen not to venture into Andaman Sea and Bay of Bengal. Fishermen out at sea along north Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal have also been advised to return to coast.

Meanwhile the Odisha government has issued a high alert and cancelled the Dusshera holidays of employees in 14 districts with Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik asking collectors to ensure the safety of the people.

The alert was issued to Balasore, Bhadrak, Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar, Dhenkanal, Jajpur, Cuttack, Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur, Puri, Khurda, Nayagarh, Ganjam and Gajapati districts.

It was decided to deploy Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF) teams in the 14 districts from October 10, Revenue minister Surya Narayan Patro said and directed that a mock drill by ODRAF and fire personnel be held.

Earlier, the state government had asked the Union Home Ministry to keep helicopters ready for rescue and relief operations. Special Relief Commissioner P K Mohapatra said that the authorities were asked to stock up on food and relief materials at cyclone shelters.

Stating that all district collectors have been provided satellite phones so that they could remain in touch with the government, he said that mobile service providers were asked to ensure that towers were repaired immediately in case of damage in the cyclone.