Odisha evacuates 2.5 lakh people as Phailin approaches

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Bhubaneswar, Oct 12: Heavy rains on Satuday lashed the coastal belt of Odisha, which is bracing for cyclone Phailin that is set to hit the state by the evening, as authorities shifted 2.5 lakh people to safer place in the state.

Moving closer, cyclonic storm Phailin is currently positioned just 260 km off the coast of Gopalpur, which is likely to be epicentre of the storm, the MET department said.

"The system 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," the latest IMD bulletin said.

The state government has evacuated 2.5 lakh people from six coastal districts and the operation has been continuing. Of the 2.5 lah people, one lakh people alone have been taken to safe place at Gopalpur, official sources said.

The districts likely to experience tidal surge are Ganjam, Puri, Khurda, Jagatsinghpur and Kendrapara. The administration of Balasore and Bhadrak are also put on alert, Special Relief Commissioner P K Mohapatra said.

"We have shifted one lakh people. They are kept at safe place and provided with all necessary provisions. The administration has to forcibly evacuate some people as they were reluctant to shift," said Ganjam Collector Krishna Kumar.

Kumar along with Range DIG Amitav Thakur personally went round the fishermen's village and evacuated people.

The district administration has targeted evacuation of all the people within 10 km from the coast in Gopalpur area and other parts of Ganjan, Kumar said.

While 55,000 people have been evacuted in Jagatsinghpur district, 45,000 people were evacuated in Puri and 13,000 in Bhadrak, Mohapatra said.

Under impact of 'Phailin', the entire coastal region is being lashed by heavy rain besides squally wind of above 70kmph. Uprooting of electric poles and tree branches have been reported in the state capital this morning.

Local Cautionary Signal Number Three (LC-III) has been replaced by Great Danger Signal Number Ten (GD-X) at Gopalpur and Puri Ports and Great Danger Signal Number Nine (GD-IX) at Paradip and Chandbali Ports.

Cyclone Phailin is set to hit the state by the evening.

IMD, Bhubaneswar Director, Sarat Sahu said, "Gale wind speed reaching 100-150 kmph will blow from forenoon and 210-220 kmph along and off districts of Gajapati, Ganjam, Khurda, Puri, Jagatsinghpur, Cuttack, Bhadrak and Kendrapara of coastal Odisha at the time of landfall."

The sea off Odisha coast remained rough to very rough. Army, Navy, NDRF have taken position and ten choppers are waiting at Barackpore Air Force base to fly to affected area on notice, an official at the SRC office said. IAF C 17 aircraft lifted 60 tonnes of load including vehicles and boats to Bhubaneshwar.

The Army has also dispatched 40-personnel medical unit, 40 -personnel rescue unit and 20 support personnel out of which 10 are officers.

PTI

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