File photo. Photograph:( ANI )
A very severe cyclonic storm packing winds of up to 150 kmph and widespread rains hit eastern India Thursday, killing eight people in Andhra Pradesh and one in Odisha, damaging homes, uprooting trees and power lines in the two states.
Cyclone 'Titli' made landfall on the eastern coast early Thursday, wreaking havoc mainly in Srikakulam and Vizianagaram districts of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha's Gajapati and Ganjam districts.
Traffic on the Chennai-Kolkata National Highway was hit after uprooted trees blocked some sections of the road.
The South Central Railway, as well as the East Coast Railway, cancelled several trains while some were terminated midway, officials said, adding a few express trains were also diverted.
Train services between Khurda Road in Odisha and Vizianagaram in Andhra Pradesh also remained suspended since 10 pm Wednesday.
According to the India Meteorological Department, Cyclone 'Titli' made landfall near Palasa in Srikakulam district, southwest of Gopalpur in Odisha with an estimated maximum sustained surface wind speed of 140-150 km per hour gusting to 165 km per hour between 4.30 am and 5.30 am.
The cyclonic storm system is now moving northeastwards towards Gangetic West Bengal across Odisha and will weaken gradually, the IMD said.
The Andhra Pradesh State Disaster Management Authority said the cyclone caused widespread damage in Srikakulam and Vizianagaram, and threw normal life out of gear as heavy to very heavy rains lashed the two north coastal districts since late Wednesday night.
While a 62-year-old woman died at Gudivada Agraharam village after a tree fell on her, a 55-year-old man died in a house collapse at Rotanasa village in Srikakulam, the SDMA said.
The Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister's Office said the other six killed were fishermen who had ventured into the sea.
Of the 67 fishing boats that had gone into the sea over the last few days from Kakinada in East Godavari district, 65 had returned to the shore safely, the CMO said.
The road network in Srikakulam district suffered extensive damage, while the power distribution network was also severely affected. More than 2,000 electric poles were uprooted.
The Eastern Power Distribution Company that caters to the electricity needs of the north coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh, reported that the distribution system for 4,319 villages and six towns in Srikakulam district was affected.
In Odisha, the cyclonic storm led to very heavy rainfall mainly in Ganjam, Gajapati and Puri districts and caused minor damage to power supply and communication.
An eight-year-old boy drowned in a canal in the Hinjili area of Ganjam district, where five people were reported missing after being swept away in the flood waters.
Ganjam Collector Kulange Vijay Amruta said the five people, including two women and two children, were swept away by flood water while returning home from a cyclone shelter in Sorada.
As the cyclone triggered heavy downpour after crossing the Odisha coast, fear of flood gripped many areas as the major rivers in the state's southern region are rising menacingly, prompting the state government to launch a fresh evacuation.
In all, eight districts -- Ganjam, Gajapati, Khurda, Puri, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Bhadrak and Balasore -- were affected, Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) B P Sethi said.
Officials said southern Odisha districts like Gajapati, Ganjam and Rayagada were pounded by incessant rains since Wednesday, leading the water levels of Bansadhara and Rushikulya rivers to rise.
While vast areas were inundated in south Odisha districts, reports of flash flood poured in from various parts, they said.
The state government on Wednesday evacuated over three lakh people to safe places. The evacuees were housed in 1,112 shelters.
Altogether, 105 pregnant women in Ganjam district and 18 in Jagatsinghpur have been shifted to hospitals, Sethi said.
Gajapati district was the worst affected in Odisha. It received 228.4 mm rainfall triggering flood scare, the SRC said.
Water Resources Secretary P K Jena said with the Bansadhara and Rusikulya rivers rising, the Odisha government is taking measures to avoid a flood.
The IMD has forecast heavy to very heavy rainfall at some places in Gajapati, Ganjam, Puri, Rayagada, Koraput, Kandhamal, Kalahandi, Boudh, Bolangir, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Khurda, Nayagarh, Cuttack, Jajpur, Dhenkanal, Angul, Bhadrak, Balasore districts till Friday.
Power supply and telephone links got disrupted, and road communication snapped due to uprooted trees at many places in Gajapati district, Sethi said.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik reviewed the situation and instructed officials to expedite restoration efforts once the situation improves.
"The chief minister gave instruction to send two more teams of NDRF to Gajapati where extensive damage has been caused to roads, hutments, electric and telephone poles," Chief Secretary A P Padhi said.
Thirteen teams of the National Disaster Response Force and Orissa Disaster Rapid Action Force were deployed in affected areas along with fire brigade personnel.
According to East Coast Railway CPRO, J P Mishra, some railway station buildings were damaged at a few places, including in Palasa. Signal poles and overhead electric masts were damaged at places between Palasa and Kottabomali stations.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday spoke with the chief ministers of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha and assured them all possible help to deal with the aftermath of cyclone Titli.
"Spoke to Shri @ncbn Ji and Shri @Naveen_Odisha Ji regarding the situation arising due to cyclone related conditions in parts of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. Assured all possible help from the Centre," the prime minister tweeted.
He also prayed for the safety and wellbeing of those affected by the cyclone.
The cyclone packing winds of up to 150 kmph and widespread rains hit eastern India Thursday, killing eight people in Andhra Pradesh and one in Odisha, damaging homes, uprooting trees and power lines in the two states.