As the severe cyclone Asani neared the east coast with a wind speed of up to 105 kmph, a total of 50 teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have been earmarked for West Bengal, Odisha, and Andhra Pradesh. Out of these, 22 teams have been deployed on the ground while 28 self-contained teams have been kept on alert within the states to tackle the cyclonic situation. Meanwhile, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has issued a red alert to Guntur Krishna, East and West Godavari, and Vishakhapatnam districts of Andhra Pradesh as the cyclonic storm is approaching the state.

The cyclone, which was moving at 5 kmph in the morning, gained speed to 25 kmph later in the day, as it lies centered around 210 km south-southeast of Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh and 530 km south-southwest of Gopalpur in Odisha, according to the latest bulletin issued by the IMD at 4.30 pm.

The system is expected to recurve by today evening and move parallel to the coast in the north-northeast direction. IMD Director General Mrutunjay Mohapatra said that cyclone Asani has already achieved the maximum stage of intensification and is gradually getting weakened. “After nearing the Andhra Pradesh coast in the evening, the system will change its course and move off and along the Odisha coast,” he said.

“Cone of Uncertainty”

The cyclonic storm Asani is currently moving in a “cone of uncertainty” over west-central Bay of Bengal and is expected to cross the coast anywhere between Kakinada and Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh on Wednesday evening.

Special Chief Secretary (Disaster Management) G Sai Prasad said they were constantly monitoring the path of the cyclone and, accordingly, issuing alerts to the respective district administration. “We have already sent nine teams each of National Disaster Response Force and State Disaster Response Force to the coastal districts for emergency operations,” the Special Chief Secretary said.

State Disaster Management Authority Director B R Ambedkar said gale with a speed of 75-95 kmph was likely along the Bay of Bengal coast under the impact of Asani.

WHAT NEXT?

Mohapatra said that the severe cyclonic storm will weaken into a cyclonic storm on Wednesday and turn into a deep depression on Thursday. Bhubaneswar Regional Meteorological Centre Director H R Biswas said that the severe cyclonic storm has already started losing steam.

Light to moderate rainfall took place in Puri and Khurda, while very heavy downpour is likely to occur in some places in north coastal Andhra Pradesh and coastal Odisha from Tuesday night. He said the gale-force wind speed will decline to 80-90 kmph by Tuesday night and to 60-70 kmph by Wednesday evening.

The MeT Department has warned fishermen against venturing into deep sea till Thursday as Odisha braced for heavy rain in the coastal areas.

The weather department has predicted heavy rains in Guntur Krishna, East and West Godavari, and Vishakhapatnam districts of Andhra Pradesh today and on Wednesday. Wind is gushing with a speed of 48 km to 63 km.

About Preparedness

In Odisha, Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) P K Jena said local authorities have been put on alert to face heavy rain and water-logging and asked to undertake evacuation of people from 15 blocks in four coastal districts.

The Ganjam district administration has closed all beaches including Gopalpur for visitors for two days as sea condition is likely to remain very high on Tuesday, and become very rough on May 12 before improving thereafter.

In Andhra Pradesh, all the coastal district collectors have been advised to take all precautions in view of the cyclone and rehabilitation is underway on the sea belt and coastal area villages. Teams of NDRF and SDRF have been kept ready for rescue operations in the state and people are advised to stay in their houses and safe places.

Out of 22 deployed NDRF teams, 12 teams have been stationed at the coastal districts of West Bengal while nine in Andhra Pradesh. Besides, one team was deployed at Balasore district in Odisha.

Since the issuance of early warning from the IMD, NDRF personnel were conducting awareness drives about do’s and don’ts during cyclone and persuading people living on the coast line to shift to safer place/cyclone shelters.

Meanwhile, the Union Home Secretary has also reviewed preparedness of central ministries/agencies and administrations of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha in view of the cyclone.

Taking to Twitter, the ministry said that the IMD informed that the cyclone is likely to reach West Central Bay of Bengal close to Kakinada-Vishakhapatnam coasts by May 11 morning to noon and then move along Andhra coast between Kakinada and Vishakhapatnam (Krishna, East and West Godavari and Vishakhapatnam districts).

Moreover, the East Coast Railway (ECoR) has put its officials on high alert in the wake of possible heavy rainfall triggered by the cyclone and asked them to ensure speedy restoration of railway traffic, a statement said. ECoR has positioned special teams for early restoration of tracks, signaling system and electrification and also kept on standby diesel locomotives in case of power failure.

Extensive damage to railway property was witnessed during the super cyclone of 1999, Phailin (2013), Hudhud (2014), Titli (2018), Fani (2019) and Amphan (2020).

WARNING ISSUED to Fishermen

The Odisha government has announced that action under Disaster Management Act will be taken against fishermen venturing into deep seas by not heeding the IMD warning. “Some information being received that in spite of warning some fishermen r venturing in2 the sea. Dist Admin advised 2 do public miking in the areas & advise fisherfolk not to venture i2 sea till 12th May,” the SRC tweeted.

“…if someone doesn’t listen & disobey, action under DM Act be taken against them,” he added.

The decision was taken after five fishing boats capsized in the sea near Chatrapur in Ganjam district during the day but all 65 fishermen swam ashore. The incident took place after a boat carrying five fishermen capsized, and it hit four other fishing boats carrying a total of 60 people following which all the vessels sunk, an official said.

The fresh happenings come a day after 11 fishermen from Odisha returning home after buying a new boat in Visakhapatnam were stranded in the sea when the vessel developed a snag. They were later rescued.

(with inputs from PTI)

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