‘Laila’ weakens slightly before hitting Andhra Pradesh

Rains, gale claim 13 lives, uproot trees, hit power supply; second cyclone ‘Bandhu’ spotted in the Bay of Bengal

HYDERABAD: Cyclonic storm “Laila” crossed the Andhra Pradesh coast near Bapatla in Prakasam district late on Thursday afternoon without causing much damage to life and property. It, however, continued to keep the State administration on tenterhooks.

After making a landfall amid torrential rain and strong gale with speeds of over 100 kmph in Ongole, the cyclone is moving in a path whose trajectory seems uncertain. Before hitting the coast, “Laila” weakened slightly and began travelling northwards. It is expected to re-curve north-easterly towards Orissa.

Meteorologists have cautioned against any complacency while the government has resolved to monitor the situation closely for the next 24 hours anticipating heavy rain in north Telangana.

A second cyclone named “Bandhu,” was noticed in the Bay of Bengal and the India Meteorological Department is still analysing its possible impact.

Laila’s landfall was accompanied by waves with heights of 1.5 to 2 metres and gusty winds that uprooted trees and disrupted power and communication networks.

Prakasam district bore the brunt of the cyclonic storm with Ongole town receiving 320 mm of rain and two other places 350 mm. Water overflowed the Chennai-Kolkata National Highway 5 near Ongole. The rains and gales claimed 13 lives, three each in Nellore and Krishna, two each in Visakhapatnam, East Godavari and Guntur and one in Vizianagaram. A mother and her son were electrocuted when they came in contact with an electric pole in Visakhapatnam. Two fishermen were reported missing in Krishna district. Crops over an area of over 19,000 acres were damaged. Despite stiff resistance, officials evacuated over 50,000 people to 250 relief camps.

As many 107 trains were either cancelled, partially cancelled or diverted as the South Central Railway feared possible damage to the track. About 10 helicopters and over 500 boats were kept ready for rescue and relief operations while the government rushed additional police forces to assist district administrations in emergency operations.

Chief Minister K. Rosaiah reviewed the situation with Ministers and senior officials twice during the day. He later briefed UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram on the devastation caused by the cyclone, besides speaking to Defence Minister A. K. Antony for assistance from the armed forces.

Meeting in New Delhi

New Delhi Special Correspondent reports:

The Centre on Thursday convened a meeting of the national crisis management committee in New Delhi to discuss the effects of the cyclonic storm.

Rajat Bharghav, Resident Commissioner of the Andhra Pradesh Bhavan, attended the meeting. He sought more helicopters for the State to supply and airdrop of food and water in the inundated areas.


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