The very severe cyclonic storm, 'Leher' which lay over southeast and adjoining central Bay of Bengal will intensify further and move west northwestwards and cross Andhra Pradesh coast near Machilipatnam on Thursday afternoon.

On Tuesday it was said that the cyclone will cross the coast at Kakinada.

Citing an IMD bulletin, Mr. C. Parthasarathi, Disaster Management Commissioner, said that rainfall would commence at many places in coastal Andhra from Wednesday evening. The intensity would gradually increase with rainfall at most places with heavy to very heavyfalls at a few places and isolated extremely heavy falls over coastal Andhra Pradesh on November 28.

Squally winds with speed reaching 45-55 to 65 kmph would commence along and off the coast. It would increase in intensity with speeds reaching upto 170 kmph along the coastal districts of Guntur, Krishna West and East Godavari and Visakhapatnam at the time of land fall. The wind speed would be around 100 to 110 kmph over Vizianagaram and Prakasam districts.

The sea would become very rough from Wednesday evening and become phenomenal on Thursday.

It is estimated that 2.5 lakh people from the seven districts of Guntur, Krishna, East and West Godavari, Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram and Srikakulam will be evacuated and relief centres established by Wednesday evening. Chief Secretary P. K. Mohanty who reviewed the preparedness with all the departments in the morning decided to request for four columns of Army each consisting of 100 men to be deployed in Eluru, Kakinada, Rajahmundry and Visakhapatnam.

Mr. Parthasarathi said that extensive damage to communication and power lines, agricultural crops and kutcha houses was expected with potential threat from flying debris. Total suspension of fishing operations was advised and fishermen instructed not to venture out into the sea. Special officers were directed to reach their respective districts by Thursday.

Round the clock control rooms were opened at the Secretariat with Phone nos 04023452144 and 23451043. Thirty NDRF teams were being deployed and additional teams were being moved from Chennai, Bhubaneswar and Pune.

A DIG of NDRF, New Delhi, has been deputed to the State to supervise and monitor the deployment of NDRF teams.