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Odisha, Andhra brace up for ‘very severe’ cyclone

 BHUBANESWAR/HYDERABAD, Oct 11 – Odisha and Andhra Pradesh today braced up for the “very severe” cyclone that is expected to hit the east coast with winds gusting up to 220 kmph tomorrow evening, as lakhs of people were being evacuated to safer places and the military kept on standby, reports PTI.

 Cyclone Phailin – the biggest cyclone in years to hit Odisha – is expected to make landfall near Gopalpur in Ganjam district in the eastern state after crossing an area between Paradip in Odisha and Kalingapatnam in AP.

Five districts were in the eye of the storm with IMD Chief Dr L S Rathore identifying Ganjam, Khurda, Puri and Jagatsinghpur districts in Odisha and Srikakalum in AP as those that is likely to be worst hit.

Rathore said the cyclone storm over east central Bay of Bengal currently lay 450 km southeast of Gopalpur and warned that it will be accompanied by a storm surge of up to three metres in the districts that will bear the brunt.

“Cyclone Phailin is a very severe cyclone,” Rathore said in Delhi. Rathore said the storm, which will hit the coast at 6 PM, is unlikely to develop into a super cyclone. Phailin was named by Thailand and it means sapphire in Thai.

“The US Navy has also forecast that the wind speed will be above 240 kmph. Therefore, the cyclone is not less than any super cyclone for us,” Special Relief Commissioner P K Mohapatra told reporters in Bhubaneshwar.

Mohapatra said the IMD had declared the 1999 calamity as a super cyclone as the wind speed had crossed 220 kmph. An estimated 9,885 persons were killed in the super cyclone that pummelled Odisha.

“This time around, the wind speed is not much different than the previous super cyclone,” he said.

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