Cyclone Phethai, which made a landfall near Katrenikona in Andhra Pradesh’s East Godavari district at around 12.30 pm on Monday claimed two lives in the state, before the storm weakened into a deep depression with wind speed of 55-65 kmph gusting to 75 kmph. The Indian Meteorology Department (IMD) said that as of Monday evening, the cyclone was centred at Tuni. They forecasted that the cyclone would weaken by Tuesday morning.
According to reports, the victims were identified as Durga Rao (40), a resident of Christurajapuram in Vijayawada, who died after a boulder fell through his roof and another woman, identified as Rellivalasala Veeramma (68) of Pallepalem.
Speaking to TNM, IMD Director in-charge YK Reddy said, “Cyclone Phethai became weaker due to low pressure after crossing the shore. It will weaken further by Tuesday morning.”
He further added, “The heavy rainfall will continue in the coastal districts till tomorrow and the cyclone will travel north east as it gradually weakens.”
Speaking to reporters, East Godavari Collector Karthikeya Mishra said, “There were more than 50 places where the road got blocked in the district, but our teams acted swiftly and cleared them.”
He informed that they had deployed 47 road clearance teams with JCB machines to immediately clear all the trees which fell as a result of the cyclone.
Mishra also said electricity supply was disrupted to 99 villages and it would be restored soon. Over 5,000 people from some coastal and low-lying villages were shifted to relief camps opened by the East Godavari district administration.
Public life came to halt in several places of East Godavari and Krishna districts due to heavy rains, and over 50 local and non-local trains were cancelled in view of Cyclone.
The Indian Ocean Forecast System issued a high wave and heavy wind warning. It said that the high waves were in the range of 3.0 - 5.1 meters between 5:30 pm and 11:30 pm along the coast of Andhra Pradesh from Durgarajupatnam to Baruva.
The report said, “Squally winds speed reaching 50 to 55 kmph gusting to 65 kmph likely along and off coastal Andhra Pradesh. It is very likely to increase 70 to 80 kmph gusting to 90 kmph along and of north coastal Andhra Pradesh. Squall wind speed reaching 50 to 60 kmph gusting to 70 kmph likely along and off south coastal Andhra Pradesh.”
According to IMD, Ninnimamidivalasa in Visakhapatnam received the highest rainfall of 156.5 mm, followed by Pachipenta with 136.0 mm. Yendada received 125.75 mm of rainfall, Jogavanipalem received 120.25 mm and Bindra Nagar Park received 119.75 mm.
Andhra Pradesh IT and Panchayati Raj Minister Nara Lokesh was also monitoring the cyclone at the Real Time Governance (RTG) command centre in Amaravati along with officials.
According to officials at the Visakhapatnam Cyclone Warning Centre, the severe cyclonic storm weakened due to unfavourable environmental conditions and crossed the coast as cyclonic storm. After crossing the coast, it moved towards Odisha.
Home Minister N. Chinna Rajappa, who monitored the situation at the Collector's office in Kakinada, said all measures were taken to tackle the situation. He said efforts were on to restore normalcy in the affected areas.
National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) and naval helicopters were on standby along with 10,000 government employees as part of disaster preparedness.
Turbulent weather conditions forced the authorities to cancel 14 flights to the port city of Visakhapatnam and divert many others to Hyderabad. Over 700 passengers were stranded at Visakhapatnam airport due to cancellation of flights.