Expected to make landfall near Ongole on Friday afternoon

The administrations of Sri Potti Sri Ramulu Nellore and Prakasam districts began evacuating people from vulnerable villages in coastal areas on Thursdya as the cyclonic storm Helen intensified into a severe cyclonic storm.

Two teams each of the National Disaster Response Force along with officials in the two coastal districts are kept in readiness as the severe cyclonic storm is expected to make landfall near Ongole on Friday afternoon. The system lay centered 360 km east of Ongole and is expected to move west­northwestwards slowly for some time, then west­ southwestwards and cross the coast between Nellore and Machillipatnam, weather officials said.

“We have identified 69 vulnerable villages and started moving infants, mothers and old people first from the coastal mandals north of Pennar river,” Nellore Joint Collector B. Lakshmikantham told The Hindu while overseeing the evacuation process. “We will evacuate all people in lowlying areas even forcibly if necessary with the assistance of police,” he added.

The woes of rain-battered districts are likely to prolong as a low pressure area will develop over south Andaman sea during next 48 hours and intensify further, weather officials added.

According to Prakasam District Revenue Officer G. Gangadhar Goud those in need of help can contact 1077 or 08592-281400.