Cyclone kills 5 in eastern India, leaves thousands without power
A cyclone slammed into India's eastern seaboard on Thursday, killing at least five people, destroying huts, uprooting trees, snapping telephone poles and power lines and leaving hundreds of thousands without electricity.
Strong gusts caused a storm surge with waters inundating low-lying areas in the eastern states of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh, and the winds, on par with a Category two hurricane, wreaked havoc on infrastructure, blocking roads and hampering emergency work.
"Five people died due to falling trees and a wall collapse," said Andhra Pradesh D. Varaprasad, Disaster Management Commissioner, adding drinking water shortages were a concern in many places due to electricity failure and generator outages.
Indian fishermen prepare to leave the beach during rain and strong winds caused by cyclonic storm named Titli, or Butterfly near Gopalpur on the Bay of Bengal coast, Ganjam district, eastern Orissa state, India, Thursday, Oct.11, 2018. The severe cyclone damaged mud huts and uprooted trees and electric poles Thursday in eastern India where authorities have moved nearly 300,000 people to higher ground. [Photo: AP]
Tropical cyclone "Titli", with gusts of up to 165 kilometers per hour (100 miles per hour), made landfall in the Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh early Thursday, according to the India Meteorological Department.
People move a boat to a safer place along the shore after Cyclone Titli at Gopalpur in the eastern state of Odisha, October 11, 2018. /VCG Photo
"We fear that 6,000 to 7,000 electricity poles may have been uprooted," said K. Dhananjaya Reddy, district administrative chief of Srikakulam.
"Around 400,000 to 500,000 people are now without electricity."
TV footage showed massive waves, tin roofs of several houses being blown away and trees toppled over.
Odisha's Special Relief Commissioner Bishnupada Sethi said so far there had been no reports of casualties in the state.
A damaged communication tower after Cyclone Titli hit in Srikakulam district in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, October 11, 2018. /VCG Photo
"There have been preparations at all levels within the state," said Sethi, adding that it had used social media to keep people informed.
"There have been a large number of WhatsApp groups working at different levels and they help," he said, adding the state also experimented with an early warning dissemination system, warning those near the coast through sirens and voice broadcasts.
"Television channels, along with radio stations, also helped to spread messages," he said.
Officials in Odisha evacuated over 300,000 people, suspended operations at the port of Paradip and cancelled many trains and flights on Wednesday.
Overturned trucks are seen on a highway after Cyclone Titli hit Srikakulam district, October 11, 2018. /VCG Photo
The Odisha Chief Minister's office in a tweet on Wednesday said schools and colleges across the state would remain closed for the week.
"Operations at Paradip have been suspended and all ships have been shifted to deep sea," said Captain A.K. Mohapatra, Deputy Conservator of Paradip Port.
The Bay of Bengal often witnesses cyclones at this time of the year, with some causing widespread death and destruction. Odisha was hit last month by a low-intensity storm.