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Cyclone Vardah to bring strong winds, heavy rain to AP; govt says prepared

Vijayawada: The severe cyclonic storm Vardah is expected to cross the Bay of Bengal coast between Sriharikota and Krishnapatnam in Andhra Pradesh’s SPS Nellore district after 5 pm on Monday, bringing with it high velocity winds of up to 100 kmph and heavy rainfall of about 19 cm.

The Meteorological Department has issued a cyclone alert for fishermen and advised them not to venture into the Andhra Pradesh coast. According to the alert, the severe cyclonic storm ‘Vardah’ over Bay of Bengal is centered at about 580 km south east of Nellore, 550 km east-southeast of Machilipatnam and 540 km east-northeast of Chennai.

It is likely to maintain its intensity till the evening on Sunday and thereafter, likely to weaken gradually while moving towards south Andhra Pradesh and adjoining north Tamil Nadu coasts.

Prakasam and SPS Nellore districts on the Bay of Bengal coast are likely to be hit heavily because of the cyclone while Chittoor and Kadapa districts of Rayalaseema are also expected to receive heavy rainfall, Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu said.

“We have kept four teams of National Disaster Response Force ready while four senior IAS officers are being deputed to these districts to oversee the rescue operations,” he told a press conference tonight after a video-conference with district Collectors and top officials.

“The intensity of Vardah may not be as high as Hudhud, which battered Visakhapatnam in October 2014. Nevertheless, we are taking all precautions to minimise the damage, if any. We are taking the help of ISRO to track the cyclonic progression and accordingly we are taking all necessary emergency measures,” he added.

The district collectors have been directed to put things in place to carry out relief and rehabilitation measures on a war footing in case of any unavoidable damage.

Under the influence of Vardah, rainfall ranging up to 19 cm is expected along the coastal districts from Visakhapatnam to SPS Nellore and also Chittoor and Kadapa.

Nellore district alone may receive 15 cm of rain on Monday, the Chief Minister said.

But Nellore district Collector Revu Mutyalaraju informed the Chief Minister that his team was fully geared up to meet any eventuality.

Meanwhile, Director General of Police (in-charge) Nanduri Sambasiva Rao said police forces in the coastal district were well prepared to handle the situation.

“Our preparedness is very high. We have boats, search lights, ropes and other equipment ready. We are roping in about 150 volunteers of Police Sevadal to help in the rescue and relief operations in Prakasam and Nellore districts,” he told reporters after a review meeting with IGs Harish Gupta (Law and Order), N Sanjay (South Coastal Zone), DIG P V S Ramakrishna (Eluru Range) and Superintendents of Police.

The State government has set up a control room at the Command Communication Centre in Vijayawada under NDMA with helpline number 0866-2488000.

The district administrations along the south coastal Andhra have asked the Revenue, Panchayat Raj and Irrigation department officials to remain in the headquarters and prepare for contingency measures.

ANI