HYDERABAD/CHENNAI: With the cyclonic storm `Thane' closing in on the Bay of Bengal coast, Andhra Pradesh Government got into a high alert today and directed Collectors of vulnerable coastal districts to immediately evacuate people living in low-lying areas and closer to the shore.
The "very severe cyclonic storm", that lay centred over southwest Bay of Bengal this morning, is expected to move westwards and cross north Tamil Nadu coast between Nagapattinam and Chennai tomorrow morning. It may cause heavy rain up to 25 cm in districts like Nellore, Prakasam and Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh, an official release said.
State Revenue Minister N Raghuveera Reddy held a high- level meeting with Chief Secretary Pankaj Dwivedi, Disaster Management Commissioner T Radha and other top officials to review the situation and the Government's preparedness in meeting any eventuality.
"Isolated heavy to very heavy rainfall is expected over south coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema districts. The wind speed will increase gradually to 110-120 kmph, gusting to 135 kmph along north Tamil Nadu and south coastal Andhra from tonight," Raghuveera told reporters after the meeting.
Of the 72 fishermen who went missing from different parts of the state in the last couple of days, all but eight were safe, he said. "We have launched an aerial survey through helicopters to trace the eight fishermen trapped in sea."
He said Roads and Buildings, Municipal Administration, Electricity, Medical and Health and Fisheries department officials have been put on high alert. The Minister appealed to pilgrims headed for Tirumala-Tirupati to postpone their travel plans in view of the cyclone.
The Government fears there could be damage to crops like paddy and groundnut due to the cyclone. Irrigation Department authorities have been asked to ensure there were no breaches to major canals.
Tamil Nadu braced itself for the possible onslaught of 'Thane' cyclonic storm, which is likely to cross the northern part of the state by early morning on Friday, threatening to bring very heavy rainfall combined with squally winds gusting upto 135 kph.
The state government announced a holiday for educational institutions in coastal districts, including Chennai, Cuddalore and Tiruvarur tomorrow.
The regional meteorological office said the very severe cyclonic storm 'THANE' over southwest Bay of Bengal slightly moved westward and lay centered at about 180 km east of Puducherry, 180 km southeast of Chennai (Tamil Nadu) and 400 km north-northeast of Trincomalee (Sri Lanka).
The system is likely to move westwards and cross north Tamil Nadu coast between Nagapattinam and Chennai, close to Puducherry around early morning of December 30, it said.
North Tamil Nadu and Puducherry could experience extremely heavy rainfall of 25 cm, while isolated heavy to very heavy rainfall would occur over south coastal Andhra Pradesh and Rayalseema, it said.
Squally winds with speeds touching 55-65 kmph gusting to 75 kmph is likely along and off north Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and South Andhra Pradesh coasts. The wind speed would increase gradually, gusting to 135 kmph along and off north Tamil Nadu and adjoining south Andhra Pradesh coast from tonight,it said.
The met office said storm surge of about 1-1.5 meter height above astronomical tide would inundate low lying areas of Puducherry and Chennai, Tiruvallur, Kanchipuram and Villupuram districts of Tamil Nadu in landfall. Sea condition is very rough and would gradually become very high to phenomenal.
Fishermen along north Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and south Andhra Pradesh coasts have been advised not to venture into the sea in next 48 hours, the met office said.
Meanwhile,the state government said it is putting in place measures to face the effect of the storm,with special teams of officials formed to monitor the situation. PWD Secretary M Saikumar held a meeting to discuss steps to be taken on a 'war footing' to tackle the effects of the storm.