Three killed as cyclone hits Andhra coast

Visakhapatnam: Three people were killed Sunday in Andhra Pradesh due to heavy rainfall accompanied by strong winds in coastal areas as cyclonic storm Hudhud crossed the coast near Visakhapatnam.

The "very severe cyclonic storm" in the Bay of Bengal started crossing the coast around noon at Pudimadaka, about 50 km from this port city.

Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu told reporters in Hyderabad that the eye of the storm has crossed the coast but it may take three to four hours for the entire system to cross.

With the authorities losing contact with the radar tracking the cyclone, they were finding it difficult to provide information about the impact and wind speed.

Naidu said the navy provided information that the cyclone eye has crossed and the gale speed was 185 kmph.

"We don't have a mechanism to assess the damages as the communication network has collapsed," he said.

Heavy rains with gale speed winds lashed Visakhapatnam, Srikakulam and Vijayanagaram districts since Saturday night, inundating low-lying areas, uprooting trees and snapping electricity and communications.

As the Indian Meterological Department (IMD) has warned that more damage was expected after brief lull, Naidu has advised people to remain indoors till the entire system crosses the region.

Naidu said the state government with help from the central government took all precautionary measures to minimise the loss of life and property but three people lost their lives.

One person was killed in a wall collapse in Visakhapatnam while another died when a tree fell on him in Srikakulam district, officials said.

The details of the third casualty were not available.

Authorities in north coastal Andhra Pradesh comprising Srikakulam, Vijayanagaram and Visakhapatnam districts and adjoining coastal districts of East Godavari and West Godavari are on high alert as the cyclone is likely to cause massive destruction.

While officials had earlier stated that nearly 400,000 people need to be evacuated, only 90,013 have moved to relief camps.

Nineteen teams of the National Disaster response Force (NDRF), two columns of the army, six helicopters and 56 boats are ready for rescue and relief operations.

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