- The Cyclone uprooted trees and damaged buildings
- Visakhapatnam and a naval base were affected
- Extent of Damage will become known after the storm abates
- Peak wind speeds will drop to 60 km/h by Monday afternoon
Cyclone Hudhud has ravaged India’s eastern seaboard, uprooting trees and damaging buildings, with at least three persons dead.
Major evacuation efforts ensured the number of deaths were minimal.
Reuters reports that the port city of Visakhapatnam, home to two million people and a major naval base, was hammered as the cyclone made landfall, unleashing the huge destructive force it had sucked up from the warm waters of the Bay of Bengal.
Upended trees and wreckage were strewn across Visakhapatnam, known to locals as Vizag. Most people heeded warnings to take refuge, but three who ventured out were killed, officials said.
The chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, the state that bore the brunt of Hudhud’s onslaught, said the extent of damage would only become known after the storm abates.
“We are unable to ascertain the situation. Seventy per cent of communication has totally collapsed … this is the biggest calamity,” N. Chandrababa Naidu told Headlines Today television.
“We are asking people not to come out of their houses,” Naidu said, adding that damage assessment would start on Monday. “We are mobilizing men and material immediately.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi called Naidu and promised “all possible assistance in relief and rescue operations”, his central government said in a statement.
The low toll reported so far followed an operation to evacuate more than 150,000 people to minimize the risk to life from Hudhud – similar in size and power to cyclone Phailin that struck the area exactly a year ago.
Storm surge forecast
After a lull as the eye of the storm passed over the city, winds regained massive potency. Forecasters warned Hudhud would blow strongly for several hours more, before wind speeds halve in the evening.
“Reverse wind flow will be experienced by the city, which will again have a very great damage potential,” L.S. Rathore, director-general of the state India Meteorological Department (IMD), told reporters in New Delhi.
The IMD forecast a storm surge of 1-2 meters above high tide that could result in flooding of low-lying coastal areas around Visakhapatnam, Vijayanagaram and Srikakulam.
The evacuation effort was comparable to one preceding Cyclone Phailin, credited with minimizing fatalities to 53. When a huge storm hit the same area 15 years ago, 10,000 people died.
Hudhud was likely to batter a 200-300 km stretch of coastline before losing force as it moves inland, forecasters said.
According to the IMD, peak wind speeds will drop to 60 km/h by Monday afternoon.
Udhud is expected to continue to dump heavy rains in northern and north eastern India and, eventually, snow when it reaches the Himalayan mountains.