At least seven people have died in Odisha because of the high winds due to falling trees even as cyclone Phailin is yet to make landfall on Saturday night, according to television reports.
Authorities have evacuated more than five lakh people in an effort to avoid loss of human life with the deadly cyclone set to hit the coastal areas of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh on Saturday. It is also report that 18 fishermen have been stranded in the sea in Odisha.
"Our main focus is to avoid loss of human life. So far we have evacuated 4.25 lakh people in Odisha and 1 lakh more in Andhra Pradesh," Union Home Secretary Anil Goswami was quoted as telling reporters by Press Trust of India (PTI).
As many as 500 cyclone camps, each with a capacity of sheltering 1,500 people, have been built in the two states to accommodate the evacuated people. The National Disaster Management Authority said that nearly 2,000 of its personnel have been deployed in Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal and 18 choppers from airforce have been pressed into action. Authorities have cut off power supply in the coastal areas of the states.
Odisha state government said that it has stocked food items and other essential commodities to ensure that the people don't suffer. At least 29 teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) will take stock of the situation and help rescue operations in the state.
At least 15 teams of NDRF are in place in Andhra Pradesh, and four additional teams have been sent from Tamil Nadu to help rescue operations.
Cyclone Phailin is forecast to hit the coastal areas between Kalingapatnam in AP and Paradip in Odisha and is expected to make landfall in Gopalpur area of Ganjam district on Saturday night between 6 and 9 pm. Districts like Ganjam, Khordha, Gajapati and Jagatsinghpur and Puri are under threat from storm.
The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) had earlier said that the very severe cyclonic storm Phailin passed over westcentral and adjoining northwest Bay of Bengal moved northwestwards during past 6 hours with a speed of 15 kmph and lay centred at 0830 hrs IST on Saturday.
It added that the cyclone "would move northwestwards and cross north Andhra Pradesh and Odisha coasts between Kalingapatnam and Paradip, close to Gopalpur (Odisha) by evening as a very severe cyclonic storm with a maximum sustained wind speed of 210-220 kmph gusting to 240 kmph."
Meanwhile, London-based Tropical Storm and the U.S. Navy's Joint Typhoon Warning Centre had earlier put Cyclone Phailin in the "most powerful" category, saying that the winds could reach 315 kmph (195 mph).
Telephone Numbers of Emergency Operation Centres:
State Emergency Operation Centre - 06742534177
Ganjam District: 06811-263978
Puri District: 06752-223237
Jagatsinghpur District: 06724-220368
Kendrapada District: 06727-232803
Bhadrak District: 06784-251881
Balasore District: 06782-262674
Mayurbhanj District: 06792-252759
Jajpur District: 06728-222648
Cuttack District: 0671-2507842
Khordha District: 06755-220002
Nayagarh District: 06753-252978
Gajapati District: 06815-222943
Dhenkanal District: 06762-221376
Keonjhar District: 06766-255437
VIDEO: Intensity of winds and rainfall will increase as the day progresses, says MeT Dept