The ‘very severe cyclone’ over the Bay of Bengal has lost its strength and is now being treated only as a ‘severe cyclone’, Andhra Pradesh Revenue Minister D. Prasada Rao said on Sunday.

Quoting the bulletin issued by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) before noon today, Mr. Rao told reporters that the cyclone, Jal, laid centred 300 kms of Chennai and 420 kms of Nellore.

The cyclone is expected to hit land between Chennai and Nellore by this evening or night and the wind speed is likely to be between 80 kmph to 100 kmph, he said.

“We have conveyed the information to administration in the concerned districts and told them to take all appropriate measures. We are setting up 56 relief camps in Nellore district, 108 in Prakasam, 65 in East Godavari, five in Krishna and one in West Godavari to shift people living in vulnerable areas,” the minister said.

Evacuation of people to the relief camps has already started and the people should not resist the attempts to evacuate them, he said.

“The cyclone is likely to lose strength further so that people in low-lying areas should come forward to stay in the relief camps at least for a day,” he said.

The government is moving in a systematic way in the rescue and relief operations so as to minimise human and other losses, Mr. Rao said.

To a query, the minister said the government would announce information about human losses, if any, after thorough checks.

Nine fishermen have been caught in the sea between East and West Godavari districts and efforts were on to rescue them, he added.

Meanwhile, Guntur district administration has identified 28 coastal villages in five talukas as extremely vulnerable and relief camps have been opened to shift people from there, an official said.

A high alert has been sounded at the Nizampatnam fishing harbour which is crowded with as many as 300 mechanised boats, the official said.