Bhubaneswar: Odisha yesterday launched a massive drive to evacuate coastal villages as the severe cyclonic storm Phailin is advancing from the Bay of Bengal and is expected to make landfall this evening.
The state government has planned to evacuate about a half million people along the coast. “We have so far moved two lakh people to safer places, the remaining would be shifted late today (Friday) night”, a senior disaster management department official said.
While more than 5,000 families from low-lying areas of the beach town of Puri have already been moved to safer places, authorities plan to move more than 30,000 others in the area later in the day.
In Ganjam district, which is expected take the worst hit as the cyclone is likely to make landfall near its Gopalpur town, authorities have started moving 100,000 families from low-lying areas to safer places like cyclone shelters and school buildings, he said.
The storm over east-central Bay of Bengal moved north-westwards and lay centred about 500km south-southeast of Paradip in Jagatsinghpur district and 490km southeast of Gopalpur in Ganjam district in Odisha, S C Sahu, Director of the Bhubaneswar Meteorological Centre, said.
It would move north-westwards and cross north Andhra Pradesh and Odisha coast between Kalingapatnam and Paradip, close to Gopalpur in Odisha, by this evening, as a very severe cyclonic storm with a maximum sustained wind speed of 210-220kmph, he said. The state government said it has heightened preparedness to deal with the cyclone, which could cause devastation in the state’s southern coastal districts.
Stocks of food grain and other essential commodities are being put together in cyclone relief centres so that people do not face difficulties. Arrangements are being made to provide people cooked food at relief centres.
Relief and rescue officials have already arrived at vulnerable places, in readiness to start operations as soon as required. At least 28 teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) would also be pressed into relief and rescue work.