The state is bracing itself to face Cyclone Laila which had intensified and was rumbling 500 km south of Vishakhapatnam and 350 km away from Chennai over the Bay of Bengal on Tuesday night.
The Chief Minister, Mr K. Rosaiah, has ordered the official machinery to be on full alert even as the Indian Meteorological Department forecast that the cyclonic system was likely to intensify further and move in a west-north westerly direction and cross the coast between Ongole and Vizag in the early hours of May 20. Heavy showers and strong winds started lashing the coast of Vishakapatnam at 9.25 pm and many portions of the city plunged into darkness with power lines going bust.
The cyclone warning centre alerted that the showers could continue and intensify in the coming hours. The CWC bulletin said that Vizag, Kakinada and Nizampatnam have been placed under the Danger-7 category (where the severity of the storm is very high) while Krishnapatnam has been placed under the Danger-5 category.
The bulletin also warned that the wind speeds could touch 125 km per hour and asked fishermen not to venture out to sea.
“We are monitoring the situation closely,” said Mr T. Radha, commissioner of disaster management. “Evacuation of people in the low lying areas will begin in the early hours of May 19. Army and National Disaster Management teams are coming to help local authorities.”
Anticipating a severe battering, the government has already evacuated people from 40 villages in Nellore district to safer places.