Laila weakens but danger remains

HYDERABAD; Over 40,000 people were evacuated from low-lying areas of Andhra Pradesh even as cyclone Laila appeared to be weakening gradually on Thursday and is expected to cross the state’s coast near Machilipatnam.

Laila remained "practically stationary" and lay centred some 200 km south off Machilipatnam coast and is likely to hit the mainland on Thursday afternoon, according to the latest bulletin released by the Met department.

"The system is showing signs of weakening due to increase of wind shear and land interaction," the Met bulletin said.

However, the threat has not subsided fully yet as gales with speeds of over 115 km in the coastal areas may cause a lot of damage, a senior official of the disaster management department here said.

"We have already moved about 40,000 people from vulnerable villages to safety and many more will be shifted based on need," he said.

Defence minister A K Antony said, "The armed forces were always ready to help the civil administration whenever they are in distress."

"Whatever help is needed from the Navy and the other armed forces, we will extend," he said.

Nellore, Prakasam, Guntur, Krishna, West Godavari and East Godavari districts are likely to bear the brunt of the cyclonic storm even as heavy to extremely heavy rain has been forecast in the coastal districts in the next 36 hours.

Chief minister K Rosaiah monitored the situation through the night and held a tele-conference with district collectors to review the rescue operations and preparedness of the government machinery.

The chief minister directed that adequate stocks of essential commodities be kept ready in these places.

He also asked the collectors to make food and medical arrangements for people in relief camps.

Train schedule hit

The South Central Railway (SCR) today cancelled two trains and partially cancelled thirty six trains while diverting 13 others, officials said.

"Due to heavy rains and anticipated cyclone, all trains on Vijayawada division of SCR are moving at a restricted speed of 60 kmph. Because of this, trains will be running late," a spokesperson of SCR said.

Depending on the severity of cyclone, trains may be stopped enroute and some trains cancelled, she said.

The express trains which have been cancelled for today are Train No. 7482 Tirupati-Bilaspur Express and Train No. 2842 Chennai-Howrah Coramandal Express.

Similarly, the trains which have been partially cancelled are the Tirupati-Adilabad Express between Tirupati-Vijayawada while Adilabad-Tirupati Express was cancelled between Vijayawada-Tirupati.

Vijayawada-Chennai Janashatabdi, Secunderabad-Gudur Simhadri Express, Tirupati Kakinada Port passenger and Vijayawada-Gudur passenger were among the partially cancelled trains, the officials said.

The SCR has also set up following helpline numbers: Vijayawada railway station 0866-2767295 and emergency control 0866-2767077 and 2767078. It has also opened special counters at 14 railway stations on Vijayawada division.(PTI)

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