Rain causes great misery

Cyclone weakens into depression; heavy damage to crops

HYDERABAD: There was relief in the State as the cyclonic storm ‘Laila’ weakened into a depression after hovering over Machilipatnam and later Kakinada.

RAGING RAIN: Anxious people watch the swollen Addavagu rivulet near Ongole town on Friday. PHOTO: SRINIVAS KOMMURI

But continuous torrential rain battered Prakasam, Nellore, Guntur, Krishna, West Godavari, East Godavari and Visakhapatnam districts, taking lives, flooding a large number of residential localities in cities like Vijayawada, besides causing extensive damage to crops.

After crossing the coast, the storm headed towards the north-northeasterly direction. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the depression would weaken further, travel up to Srikakulam or Balasore in Orissa before its possible re-entry into the Bay of Bengal and further movement towards Bangladesh. The toll in the cyclone-hit areas went up to 23 with Krishna accounting for seven, Prakasam 5, Nellore and Guntur 4 each, East Godavari two and Visakhapatnam one. Three fishermen were still missing, two in Krishna and one in East Godavari.

Chief Minister K. Rosaiah, who reviewed the situation with Ministers and officials twice during the day, directed district Collectors to be on alert for two more days as heavy rain was likely to continue, especially in Khammam and Warangal. They were advised not to hesitate to contact him on telephone even at odd hours if there was a need. Health officials were instructed to be wary as epidemics might break out in the rain-ravaged areas.

He would undertake an aerial survey over Prakasam, Guntur and Krishna districts on Saturday, having cancelled it on Friday due to inclement weather. Three hundred Army personnel were dispatched to Ongole to help in shifting people from flooded localities to higher places and distribute food packets.

Train services between Vijayawada, a major railway junction touched by about 300 trains a day, and Chennai and other southern destinations were affected for the day. Railway authorities were confident of restoring the services by tomorrow. Briefing reporters, Revenue Minister D. Prasada Rao said over 71,000 people were being looked after at 300 relief camps in the affected districts. Crops over 30,000 acres were found damaged. Similarly, nearly 400 boats were lost and 1,460 others damaged. Over 1.7 lakh food packets and 6.3 lakh water sachets were distributed.

A picture of human misery unfolded in Prakasam district which bore the brunt of the fury on Thursday, with thousands of families being rendered homeless following inundation of many villages and towns. There was no access to food and clean drinking water.

Strong gales flattened banana trees and damaged mango orchards in Krishna, Guntur, West Godavari and East Godavari districts. A mango farmer committed suicide in East Godavari district seeing the fruits simply dropping. Several places plunged into darkness from Thursday night due to disruption in power supply.

Singh Nagar, Vambay Colony, Vidyadharapuram and several other low-lying areas in Vijayawada came under waist-deep water. A landslip killed four members of a family at Kothapet. Authorities were forced to open two gates of the Prakasam Barrage as heavy inflows reached the Krishna river from several intermediary sources.


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