Helen effect not lethal as feared

Seven people dead in AP; next 12 hours to be very sensitive for the coastal region.

Hyderabad: The cyclonic storm Helen made a landfall at the Andhra Pradesh coast near Machilipatnam on Friday afternoon, resulting in strong gales and heavy rains that resulted in the death of seven people and caused extensive crop damage.

The cyclone weakened into a deep depression later in the day. “The ‘severe cyclone’ became a ‘cyclone’ when it made landfall and has further weakened into a deep depression,” informed M. Narsimha Rao, assistant meteorologist, Meteorological Centre, Hyderabad.

Over 346 habitations were identified as vulnerable and 20,542 people were evacuated from Krishna, Guntur and East and West Godavari and Prakasam districts.

Helen loses steam, trees uprooted

Winds that gusted with speeds reaching 100-110 kmph uprooted trees and damaged electricity and communication towers in a few coastal districts due to the cyclonic storm Helen that weakened into a deep depression later in the day.

Three boats were stranded in Katravani Khona, Kothapalli lighthouse near Reliance Rig in East Godavari district. Fourteen people from two of the boats managed to reach to safety while seven people on the third boat were still stranded. The Coast Guard, meanwhile, is conducting more rescue operations.

The cyclonic storm over the west central Bay of Bengal moved slightly westwards and crossed the AP coast close to south of Machilipatnam with wind speeds of 80-90 kmph. It will move west-southwestwards and weaken into a deep depression by Saturday, said Met officials.

The officials have predicted that the next 12 hours will be very sensitive for the coastal region. “The next 12 hours, that is till November 23 early morning, are very crucial for Coastal AP. The northern coast is affected more due to this,” Narsimha Rao said.

The Raiwada Reservoir in Visakhapatnam reached 113.48 MT against its full capacity of 114 MT, Konam was at 100.46 MT against a full capacity 101.25 MT, and Pedderu at 136.10 MT against a maximum capacity of 137 MT. Sand bags were readied for immediate closure of breaches if necessary at various water bodies as a precautionary measure.

Three flights, two Jet Airways and one Spice Jet flight from Hyderabad to Rajahmundry were cancelled on Friday in anticipation of Helen, said the RGIA officials. Unlike Cyclone Phailin, which had brought domestic flights to a standstill in the state last month, no other flights were affected this time. However, there was no impact on rail services and all trains were on schedule, informed SCR officials.

At present, there are 10 NDRF teams stationed at Krishna, Guntur, East Godavari and West Godavari and four helicopters are ready at Hakimpet one each of which will be shifted to Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam on Saturday.

On Friday, Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy reviewed the status of Helen, the preparedness of the administration, rescue and relief operations, evacuation from low lying areas etc., with Chief Secretary Dr P.K. Mohanty and district collectors. He enquired about shifting people from low lying areas and conducting relief camps and asked the chief secretary to coordinate with the NDRF, police, fire, medical and agriculture departments and also to take help of the Army, Navy and Air Force if necessary. The CM also directed the chief secretary to send a Coast Guard ship with helicopter to rescue the fishermen stranded near the Kothapally lighthouse.

The next 24 hours will witness rainfall at most places with heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places and isolated extremely heavy rainfall (25 cm or more) will occur over north Coastal Andhra Pradesh and adjoining Guntur, Krishna, West Godavari districts of south Coastal Andhra Pradesh. Rainfall at many places with isolated heavy to very heavy rainfalls at a few places will occur over Telangana in the next 24 hours, said Met department officials.

Wind speeds reaching 60 to 70 kmph, gusting to 80 kmph, would prevail along and off the coastal districts of Guntur, Krishna, East and West Godavari and squally wind speeds reaching 45 to 55 kmph, gusting to 65 kmph, would prevail along and off coastal districts of Prakasam, Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram and Srikakulam during the next 12 hours. Sea conditions will be very rough during the next 24 hours, warned officials.

The cyclone meanwhile has cast a doubt over Sunday’s second ODI between India and West Indies at Visakhapatnam with heavy rains predicted in several coastal areas including Vizag.

( Source : dc )
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