Cyclonic storm Titli made landfall near Gopalpur town of Ganjam district in Odisha early on Thursday. The storm led to heavy rains and windy conditions in the town and other parts of the district, the Hindustan Times reported. In Gopalpur, the wind speed was 102 km per hour.
At least two people were killed and one injured in Andhra Pradesh’s Srikakulam district on Thursday, said the National Disaster Management Authority. “We fear 6,000-7,000 electricity poles may have been uprooted,” K Dhananjaya Reddy, district administrative chief of Srikakulam, told Hindustan Times. “Around 4 lakh to 5 lakh people are now without electricity.”
The landfall process of the “very severe” cyclonic storm is still continuing. It made landfall near Palasa in Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh between 4.30 am and 5.30 am at wind speeds of 140 to 150 km per hour and gusts of 165 km per hour. “The process of landfall has started and it will completely cross the Odisha coast in one or two hours,” Bhubaneswar Meteorological Centre Director HR Biswas said.
Over 3 lakh people were evacuated from five low-lying areas, Reuters reported. “We have shifted them to shelters for safety as a one meter-high storm surge is likely to inundate low lying areas,” said an unidentified official. The National Disaster Response Force and Orissa Disaster Rapid Action Force have already been positioned in vulnerable districts. The Special Relief Organisation has readied 300 powerboats with crew for relief operation.
Special Relief Commissioner Bishnupada Sethi said 17 districts of Odisha have been put on red alert. These are Ganjam, Gajapati, Puri, Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur, Balasore, Bhadrak, Dhenkanal, Kandhamal, Boudh, Cuttack, Jajpur, Khurda, Nayagarh, Kalahandi, Koraput and Rayagada.
In Ganjam district, trees were uprooted in several places. However, there are no reports so far of any damage to properties. Residents of Gajapati district faced power cuts and disruption of telephone lines. Road commute was affected as many uprooted trees blocked the streets.
The storm is expected to gradually weaken and re-curve northeastwards later on Thursday before moving towards Gangetic West Bengal across Odisha.
On Wednesday, the Odisha government announced that schools in four districts – Ganjam, Gajapati, Puri and Jagatsinghpur – will remain shut on Wednesday and Thursday as a precautionary measure.
The East Coast Railway Zone stopped movement of all trains on the Chennai-Howrah section indefinitely from Wednesday afternoon. Indian Railways said in a statement that it has cancelled several trains from Bhubaneswar.
IndiGo cancelled five flights – two for Delhi, one each for Kolkata, Bengaluru and Mumbai. Flights arriving from these destinations were also cancelled. Night parking facilities at the Biju Patnaik International Airport in Bhubaneswar were unavailable from Wednesday night.
“Operations at Paradip port have been suspended and all ships have been shifted to deep sea,” Paradip Port Deputy Conservator Captain AK Mohapatra said. “All ships have been removed from the harbour.”
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik asked district collectors to evacuate residents in low-lying areas of Odisha’s coast. Bishnupada Sethi directed officials to identify people living near the coast in Ganjam, Khordha and Puri districts, and move them to relief shelters. Fishermen near the coast were asked not to venture out to sea.
In Srikakulam, people confined themselves to their homes as the storm hit on Thursday morning, The Hindu reported. Srikakulam city was in complete darkness in the early hours of Thursday, with moderate rain and heavy gales at a speed of 120 km per hour raging in the streets.
The storm hit the coast near Gollapadu-Pallesarathi villages of Santabommali mandal, around 3.35 am on Wednesday. The gales damaged coconut, paddy and other crops.
Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu conducted a teleconference with district authorities and instructed them to remain on high alert, PTI reported. “The focus should be on relief measures and restoration of the communication network,” he said. “Care should be taken to prevent the spread of communicable diseases.”
Andhra Pradesh Minister for Transport K Atchannaidu has ordered the education department to declare a holiday for schools and colleges on Thursday. Vehicular movement in affected districts is very low, with buses of the state-run Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation almost empty.