All two-storey government and NGO buildings, schools and colleges declared cyclone shelters
Thousands of people living in coastal villages of Kendrapada, Jagatsinghpur, Puri and Ganjam in Odisha started heading for safe areas on Friday as cyclone Phailin moved towards the state.
The cyclonic storm Phailin over Bay of Bengal intensified and is all set to make a landfall close to Gopalpur in Odisha at a speed of at least 215km per hour. Around 448 villages in all coastal districts could face tidal surges and heavy rains. Around 400,000 people living in low-lying areas have been evacuated to cyclone shelters, schools, colleges and other safe places since Friday morning, officials said.
“Officials of the district administrations are using loudspeakers to warn people of the impending danger. The authorities have also stockpiled dry food, rice, and have kept medical teams and ambulances on standby,” said P K Mohapatra, special relief commissioner (SRC) of Odisha. Personnel of Odisha State Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF) have already been deployed in Ganjam, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapada, Puri and Khurdha districts, added Mohapatra.
“We are determined to evacuate people from the vulnerable areas within the daytime on Friday. If needed, the administration will force people living in risky areas to leave their houses before the evening to avoid casualties. All two-storied buildings owned by government, non-government organisations, schools and colleges have been declared cyclone shelters to accommodate people living in risky areas,” said S K Mallick, district collector of Jagatsinghpur.
Amid concerns about a possible disaster, thousands of people have left their homes for safer places ahead of the cyclone expected on Saturday. The authorities have moved more then 40,000 people from low-lying villages in Jagatsinghpur district to safe shelters. Residents of villages in coastal districts of Kendrapada and Jagatsinghpur have been spending sleepless nights since Wednesday after the meteorological department predicted Phailin cyclone was likely to hit the coast on Saturday. Hundreds of workers of Paradip have already left the port town for safer places.
"On October 29, 1999, at least 230 people of our village Goda were killed in tidal waves due to super cyclone. We had got warning about the cyclone two days before it struck, but still many people died. This time, I, along with my family members, have left the village on Friday morning. We are now residing in the village cyclone shelter," said Rajani Jena (45) of Goda village Jagatsinghpur district.
More than 10,000 seaside villagers of Kendrapada and Jagatsinghpur perished in the super cyclone which struck on October 29, 1999.
“A fishing boat turned turtle at Agaranashi near Paradip port on Friday when four fishermen were returning to the coast. Fortunately, all four were saved by some fishermen who were in another boat. At least 200 fishermen who ventured into the sea returned to the coast on Friday. We used loudspeakers to warn fishermen of the impending danger,” said Ranjit Keshari Dash, marine fishery officer at Paradip.
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