Cyclone "Laila" weakening, to cross Andhra coast Thursday afternoon
The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) today said the cyclone "Laila" heading towards the Andhra Pradesh coast was showing signs of weakening due to increase of wind shear and land interaction.
A bulletin issued by the IMD this morning said the severe cyclonic storm had moved northwards and lay centred at 0530 hours today over west-central and adjoining south-west Bay of Bengal near latitude 15 degrees N and longitude 81 degrees E.
This was about 120 km north-east of Nellore, 100 km south-east of Ongole and 120 km south of Machilipatnam.
The IMD said the current environmental conditions suggested that the system was likely to move in a north-westerly direction and cross the Andhra Pradesh coast between Kavali and Kakinada, close to Machilipatnam, by today afternoon.
The bulletin said that, under the influence of this system, widespread rainfall with scattered heavy to very heavy falls and isolated extremely heavy falls (25 cms or more) was likely over coastal Andhra Pradesh during the next 36 hours.
Fairly widespread rainfall with isolated heavy falls was likely over north Tamil Nadu during the next 24 hours.
Gale force winds with maximum speed reaching 100-110 kmph were likely along and off Andhra Pradesh coast at the time of landfall. Squally winds with speed reaching 50-60 kmph were likely along and off north Tamil Nadu coast during next 24 hours.
The bulletin said sea conditions would be very high along and off the Andhra Pradesh coast during the next 24 hours and very rough along and off north Tamil Nadu coast during the same period.
Fishermen have been advised not to venture into the sea off these coasts.
Storm surge of 1.5 to 2 metres above the astronomical tide was likely to inundate the coastal areas of Guntur, Krishna and West & East Godavari districts of Andhra Pradesh at the time of landfall, the bulletin added.
According to the bulletin, the cyclone could cause extensive damage to thatched roofs and huts in Nellore, Prakasham, Guntur, Krishna, West and East Godavari and Visakhapatnam districts. Damage could also be caused to power and communication lines due to uprooting of large trees.
The bulletin suggested total suspension of fishing operations in the areas and shifting of coastal hutment dwellers to safer places. People were also advised to remain indoors in the areas likely to be affected.
The bulletin said the system was likely to move nort-heastwards across Orissa and West Bengal after the landfall. This could lead to enhanced rainfall activity with isolated heavy to very heavy falls over coastal Orissa and Gangetic West Bengal tomorrow and on May 21.
Squally winds with speed reaching 45-55 kmph were likely to commence along and off Orissa and West Bengal coast respectively from tomorrow, it said. Fishermen were advised to be cautious while going out into the sea off these coasts.
Meanwhile, heavy rains accompanied by strong winds continued to lash the region. As a result, flights to Visakhapatnam and Rajahmundry were affected and movement of trains and road transport disrupted.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister K Rosaiah held a meeting with top officials yesterday to take stock of the situation and work out precautionary measures. Disaster response teams were sent to vulnerable areas and people were being moved to safer areas, sources added.
In New Delhi, an official press release said yesterday that the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) had issued instructions for the movement of two companies each from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) in Mundali and Arakkonam.
The companies, along with collapsed structure search and rescue (CSSR) and flood rescue equipments, including inflatable boats, had left on Tuesday night for deployment in the coastal areas of Andhra Pradesh likely to be hit by the cyclone.
In all, 438 personnel of the NDRF had been deployed and they were expected to be at their respective locations by today. They would be positioned in Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada, Machhalipatnam, Guntur, Prakasam and Nellore, the release added.
Meanwhile, energy major Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) said yesterday that, in view of the cyclone threat, it had exercised caution and suspended all drilling operations in the East Coast.
The company said the rigs operating in its contract areas were moved to safe zones. All production operations on the Floating Production and Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel operating in the Krishna Godavari (KG) D6 block were also suspended, it said.
"We remain vigilant and weather conditions are being monitored round the clock to determine when production can be restarted safely. The same has been conveyed to all authorities including Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas and Directorate General of Hydrocarbons," a spokesperson for RIL added.
In Hyderabad, the Andhra Pradesh goverment has set up six emergency control rooms that will function round the clock to tackle any situation that might arise.
Mr Rosaiah called up Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi last night and briefed them about the steps being taken by the State Government to meet the developing situation.
Both Dr Singh and Ms Gandhi assured him of full support and assistance to meet any eventuality.
Mr Rosaiah also met Governor E S L Narasimhan and apprised him of the measures put in place by the State Government to handle the situation. He also met leaders of various political parties, including TDP leader N Chandrababu Naidu, PRP leader Chiranjivi, BJP leader Kishen Reddy, CPM leader B V Raghavulu, CPI leader Narayana and MIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi and requested them to cooperate with the Government in its efforts to provide relief to the people.