At least eight people were killed and lakhs were left without power on Thursday as Cyclone Title hit Andhra Pradesh and Odisha destroying huts, uprooting trees, snapping electric and telephone poles, officials said.
“We fear 6,000-7,000 electricity poles may have been uprooted. Around 4,00,000 to 5,00,000 people are now without electricity,” K Dhananjaya Reddy, district administrative chief of Srikakulam in Andhra Pradesh said.
Cyclone “Titli,” with gusts of up to 165 kph (100 mph), made landfall in the Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh early on Thursday, the India Meteorological Department said.
The severe cyclonic storm wreaked havoc on infrastructure, blocking roads and hampering emergency work. Television footage showed tin roofs of several houses being blown away.
“We are still assessing the damage and roadblocks are being cleared,” special relief commissioner Bishnupada Sethi said, according to wire agency Reuters.
The weather office said heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places, and extremely heavy rainfall at isolated places is very likely in Odisha in the next 24 hours.
“We believe that the entire state, except some western parts, is likely to receive rain throughout the day. Depending upon the rainfall, we may see some flood in coastal Odisha,” chief secretary Aditya Prasad Padhi said.
Cyclone Titli will, however, weaken gradually and is expected to turn into a “deep depression” by Friday morning, IMD said. “It (Cyclone Titli) is very likely to move northwestwards for next 12 hours and then re-curve northeastwards towards Gangetic West Bengal across Odisha,” it said.
“It is very likely to weaken gradually becoming severe cyclonic storm around noon, cyclonic storm around the evening of today (Thursday) and a deep depression by the morning of tomorrow, October 12, 2018,” it added.
As the landfall process started, the three north coastal districts of Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam experienced heavy rains and high-speed gales. And at least five districts — Ganjam, Gajapati, Puri, Khurda and Jagatsinghpur — in Odisha also received rainfall coupled with high-speed winds under the impact of Cyclone Titli.
Seawater entered houses in Uppada in Andhra Pradesh’s East Godavari district as the maximum of the height of the tides was of 10ft along the coast close to the point of landfall. The highway in the Uppada-Kakinada stretch was closed for traffic as a precautionary measure.
Cyclone Titli battered Palasa municipality badly, bringing life to a standstill and several mandals in Srikakulam district lost power after the severe storm. Road communication in some places, including Odisha’s Gopalpur and Berhampur, was snapped, according to PTI.
Uddanam region with seven mandals in Srikakulam district bore the brunt of Cyclone Titli with heavy damages of coconut and cashew plantations. Standing crops in Srikakulam and Vizianagaram districts also reported damages on a massive scale.
Trains, flights cancelled
The East Coast Railway zone of the Indian Railways stopped the movement of all trains on the Chennai-Howrah section from Wednesday afternoon till further orders. Some trains were cancelled too.
The railways also suspended trains bound for Srikakulam and the Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) also withdrew its bus services covering the cyclone-affected areas and power supply was shut down in the wake of warnings sounded by IMD.
The Biju Patnaik International Airport in Bhubaneswar closed its night parking from Wednesday night. Indigo airlines cancelled five of its flights originating from Bhubaneswar.
The cancelled flights include two for Delhi, one each for Kolkata, Bengaluru and Mumbai. The incoming flights from these destinations have also been cancelled, said airport director Suresh Hota.
The Odisha government evacuated over three lakh people from five coastal districts were evacuated as a precautionary step before Cyclone Titli made a landfall. It said all schools and colleges in the state will be shut for the next two days, and students union elections in colleges scheduled for Thursday have been cancelled.
The Centre also rushed nearly 1,000 National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) personnel to Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal on Wednesday besides issuing directions for storage of food, fuel and maintaining power supply and telecommunication line.