Indian Army Evacuates People Ahead Of Cyclone

News and Press Release
Originally published
NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Indian authorities called in the army to help evacuate thousands of people from coastal areas Friday ahead of an extremely strong cyclone that was due to hit the eastern coast by noon.

''We have classified it as a super cyclone, which means one of the highest intensities,'' said an official at the control room of the Indian Meteorological Department in New Delhi.

The cyclone was located in the Bay of Bengal, some 60 miles from the port city of Paradip in the eastern Indian state Orissa.

Press Trust of India said a gale moving at 93 miles per hour had struck Paradip, destroying 2,000 homes in low-lying areas.

The storm would whip up tidal waves as high as 16 feet once it hit the coast between the pilgrim town of Puri in Orissa and Sandhead islands in the neighboring West Bengal state, officials said.

Wind speeds of up to 140 miles per hour were likely, they said.

''At the time of landfall, the super cyclonic storm is expected to be accompanied by strong gales, reaching wind speeds of 200 to 225 km per hour (130-140 miles per hour), and storm surges almost three to five meters above the normal tide level,'' C. V. V. Bhadram, director of the Hyderabad Meteorological Center said.

Several train services on the east coast were cancelled, and local governments in Orissa and its neighboring states of West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh had asked the army to be on alert, news agencies said.

Dozens of people died and property and crops worth millions of rupees were damaged earlier this month after a cyclone swept through the eastern region.

Disaster management officials in neighboring Bangladesh, where low-lying areas are vulnerable to floodwaters, said they had ordered full-scale readiness for evacuation, rescue and relief operations.

Bangladeshi weather officials said the storm could hit the country's main Chittagong port and Cox's Bazar resort district along with India's eastern coast.

About 10,000 people had been evacuated from Paradip, a local government official said in the state capital, Bhubaneshwar. Schools and colleges were ordered shut for the day and there was no electricity in Bhubaneshwar.

United News of India reported Thursday that the West Bengal state government had decided to evacuate nearly 200,000 people from islands in the Bay of Bengal.

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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