Visakhapatnam/Srikakulam/ Rajah-mundry/Kakinada: With Cyclone Hudhud, bearing down on the East Coast, around 5,00,000 people have been shifted to safety from low-lying areas.
Several flights from Vizag have been cancelled on Saturday and Sunday. Restrictions were impo-sed on vehicular movement along 350 km on National Highway 16 from Itchapuram in Srikakulam to Payakar-aopeta in Vizag district from Saturday evening.
No vehicle will be allowed on NH 16, barring emergency cyclone relief vehicles and ambulances. APSRTC has cancelled as many as 45 long-distance buses.
The severe cyclone is now 200 km southeast off Vizag coast on Saturday evening. Indian Meteorological Department officials said there has been no change in Hudhud’s track and it is steadily heading towards Vizag.
The cyclonic storm is expected to cross the coast close to Vizag city around Bheemili by Sunday at around noon and the storm would gain its highest speed of 195 kmph before landfall.
IMD on Saturday night has issued a Red Message that stands for ‘High Alert’ on the impending storm. The US Joint Typhoon Warning Centre has already predicted stronger wind speeds 194 kmph gusting to 240 kmph in its latest update.
INCOIS warned in its Bulletin 19 on Saturday that the expected wind speed at the time of landfall would be 180 kmph.
It cautioned Pedanagayyapalem in Vizianagaram district with expected sea surge of 400 metres during the time, Rushikonda Beach with 240 m, Chintapalli in Srikakulam with 230 m and Atchanna Agraha-ram in Srikakulam with 240 m.
IMD also predicted that Vizag, Vizianagaram, Srikakulam and East Godavari would receive around 24.5 cm rainfall.
Sea surge of 30 m witnessed in Vizag:
The sea condition has already turned very rough with huge waves along the coast on Saturday. Many beaches have witnessed gigantic tides, where waves could be seen reaching almost close to the beach road in the city. A high-rise retaining wall at Vizag fishing harbour has collapsed due to strong waves that were hitting the coast.
Srikakulam and Vizag started witnessing showers from Saturday even-ing. Sea surge of 15 m to 30 m has been witnessed at a few places near S. Rayavaram in Vizag district.
A massive evacuation drive is on by the authorities and until now around 5 lakh people from four coastal districts have been shifted to safety from low lying areas.
Evacuation a tough task:
Officials have faced hard time in evacuating people in the coastal areas in Vizag and Vizianagaram as several people in vulnerable areas have not believed that cyclone Hudhud was going to strike their homes along the coast and they were reluctant to leave their boats and nets, shift to shelters, making the evacuation process challenging.
With severe cyclone Hudhud roaring towards the Vizag coast, district administration with the support of NDRF teams, on Saturday morning began evacuating people from vulnerable areas to safer places (cyclone relief centres) to minimise casualties before cyclone touches the coast.
Sub-inspector K. Srinivas, who was on duty at Revupolavaram coastal village under S Rayavaram mandal in the district, described the evacuation before cyclone Hudhud strikes, he said it had become really tough task for them to convince the people as they claim that they have been living along coast and the cyclone can’t wreak havoc.
The people also told the evacuation teams that they know the sea conditions better than that of others and able to save others at any difficult situation and some fisher folk didn’t agree to move out from the coast, the police officer added.
Collector N. Yuvraj said that the district administration has identified over 75 villages of 11 coastal mandals in Vizag district as vulnerable places and decided to evacuate around 40,000 people covering more than 8,000 families, including people from coastal areas in Vizag to safer places.
Evacuation continued (forcible evacuation also) till midnight and around 30,000 people were shifted to safer in Vizag.
In Vizianagaram district also Rural Development Minister K Mrunalini accompanied by officials tried to persuade the fishefolk of six villages to shift to safety as those villages were most vulnerable.
Ministers Ganta Srinivasa Rao and Ch Ayyanna Patrudu have inspected the evacuation in Bheemili and S Rayavaram areas respectively. They also persuaded some of the fisher folk to shift to safety.