With cyclone Laila nearing landfall, over 40,000 people were evacuated from low- lying areas of Andhra Pradesh even as authorities in West Bengal and Orissa on Thursday issued alerts to people in coastal regions and asked fishermen not to venture into the Bay of Bengal.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) said though the cyclone has weakened, the danger is not yet over as there were signs of it re-emerging in northern Bay of Bengal over the weekend.
“After landfall in coastal Andhra Pradesh near Bapatla, the cyclone track shows that it will move along coastal Andhra and re-emerge in north Bay,” IMD Director General Ajit Tyagi told reporters in New Delhi.
He said there were chances of Laila intensifying further and moving towards north Andhra Pradesh, south Orissa and then towards Bangladesh.
Mr. Tyagi rejected suggestions of the system intensifying into a super cyclone similar to the one that struck Orissa in 1999 wreaking havoc.
Over 40,000 people were evacuated from low-lying areas of Andhra Pradesh as there was a possibility of Laila triggering gales with speeds of over 115 kmph inflicting damage, a senior official of the Disaster Management Department said in Hyderabad.
Alerts were issued in six coastal districts of West Bengal and people asked to take precautionary measures in places like North and South 24 Parganas, East Midnapore, Howrah and Hoogly.
Under its influnce, heavy rain has been forecast in the coastal areas from Friday evening and fishermen have been asked not to venture into the sea, West Bengal Finance Minister Asim Dasgupta said.
Heavy rains accompanied by high velocity winds caused by the cyclone, which lay centred about 570 km southwest of Gopalpur in Orissa on Thursday, are likely to hit some places in southern parts of the State, MeT officials said in Bhubaneshwar.
Squally winds having 50 to 60 kmph speed are likely to occur along and off Orissa coast and sea conditions would be rough, they said. The State Government advised fishermen not to venture into the sea and directed district authorities to remain prepared with manpower and material to deal with any eventuality and keep cyclone shelters ready, officials said.
Rain-battered coastal districts of north Tamil Nadu, reeling under the influence of the cyclone, had a respite with the downpour abating Thursday morning. The rains that threw life out of gear in the State have claimed two lives.
Meanwhile, Defence Minister A.K. Antony said, “The Armed Forces are always ready to help civil administrations whenever they are in distress.” He said the Navy and other armed forces would extend whatever help needed.