Close to 9,400 people living along the Bay of Bengal coast in SPS Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh were evacuated following heavy rains due to the influence of cyclone Vardah, which hit Chennai around 2:1o pm on Monday.
The people were shifted to relief camps outside the affected area.
A state of high alert is being maintained in SPS Nellore district due to the presence of cyclonic storm Vardah, which is expected to make landfall in Pulicat, about 60 km from Chennai around 3 pm today.
Cyclone Vardah is likely to hit land with wind speeds of around 150 km per hour. Current wind speed is about a 130 km per hour and is likely to get intense after it makes landfall, the Navy said.
Around 18 people were trapped at sea near the Sriharikota High Altitude Range, of which eight were rescued and the search for the remaining ten was still underway.
“The police and CISF personnel are on the job and all the ten fishermen are safe. But they are somehow reluctant to come to the shore. We will soon bring them out,” Nellore Superintendent of Police Vishal Gunni told news agency PTI.
Municipal Administration Minister P Narayana, who is camping in Nellore to oversee the rescue and relief operations, said Vakadu and Tada received 4.8 and 3 cms of rain respectively since today morning.
“We have already moved over 9,400 persons in seven vulnerable mandals to safety. All necessary measures have been taken to ensure safety of people,” he said.
Earlier, Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu had directed the Nellore district administration to evacuate people in about 255 low-lying areas to safer places.
The Chief Minister reviewed the situation through teleconference and asked the official machinery to remain on high alert to prevent loss of lives.
All schools and colleges in Chennai, Kancheepuram, Tiruvallur and Villupuram are closed today. The Tamil Nadu Government has also asked private offices to allow their staff to take a day off or work from home.
The heavy rainfall has also caused hardship to devotees who had arrived to visit the shrine of Lord Venkateswara at the holy Tirumala Hills. The temple authorities have made necessary arrangements for the comfort of the pilgrims.
Under the influence of Vardah, Nellore and Chittoor districts are expected to receive heavy rainfall. In Sullurpeta mandal in Nellore district, 30 persons were shifted to a relief camp this morning.
The South Central Railway has cancelled some passenger trains between Sullurpeta and Chennai in view of the cyclone.
The Vijayawada-Chennai-Vijayawada Pinakini Express has been diverted via Renigunta and Arrakkonam. Some other Express trains on the Chennai route have also been diverted via Arrakkonam.
Several flights arriving at Chennai and flying out of the city have been cancelled or delayed this morning.
The MET department said the sea will be rough along and off the Andhra Pradesh and north Tamil Nadu coasts as heavy rain will continue till about 3 pm. The rains will stop for about two hours, post which it will resume again.
The National Disaster Management Authority has advised people “to remain in safe places and cooperate with state government officials and disaster management agencies”. 174 relief centres have been readied to receive evacuated people in Chennai.
Navy said it has two ships ready with doctors, food and water for 5,000 people. 30 diving teams with additional relief material are also on standby.
The Air Force Base at Tambaram near Chennai said it is prepared for any contingency. 15 teams of the NDRF have been deployed along the coast.
Cyclone Vardah Helpline Numbers:
Andhra Pradesh: 0866-2488000
Tamil Nadu: 044-28593990
Important Do’s & Don’ts:
* Stay indoors and away from windows and doors.
* If you stay in a low-lying area near the coast, try to stay with a family or friends who stay far from the coast.
* Keep phones, emergency light, torch etc charged and on the ready.
* Stock up on essentials like medicines, water, food etc.
* Follow updates and precautions by the weather department.
* Do not believe information unless it comes from a trusted source.
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