Heavy rain and high wind disrupted normal life in the coastal areas of Odisha on Saturday, as the 'very severe' cyclonic storm Phailin approaches from the Bay of Bengal, before it is expected to make landfall by evening.
Cyclone Phailin is forecast to hit the coastal areas between Kalingapatnam in AP and Paradip in Odisha and is expected to make andfall on Saturday between 6 and 8 pm.
Authorities have been evacuating people from low-laying areas of the coast, ahead of the landfall. Special relief Commissioner Pradeep Kumar Mohapatra told IANS that about three lakh people have been already moved to safer places and more are likely to be shifted during next couple of hours.
Odisha state government said that it has stocked food items and other essential commodities to ensure that the people don't suffer. At least 28 teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) will take stock of the situation and help rescue operations and about 10 choppers are kept ready to help drop relief materials.
According to The Hindustan Times, people in Odisha have resorted to massive hoarding of food and essential items. Dry food, candles, match boxes, soaps, potatoes, tomatoes and onion have run out of stock in the state capital Bhubaneswar even as chief minister Naveen Patnaik warned of "strict action against hoarders".
The daily reported that people have resorted to panic buying despite the prices of essential items being sold at an exorbitant rate. Supply department officials seized 300 bags of wheat in Ganjam district and several bags of potatoes in Nayagarh district.
The cyclone is expected to affect the coastal districts, including Ganjam, Khordha, Gajapati and Jagatsinghpur and Puri, with the landfall expected in Gopalpur area of Ganjam district.
The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) said in its latest bulleting 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 will 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
Phone Numbers of Control Rooms
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