Cyclone Titli kills 8 in Andhra, Odisha; 3,00,000 evacuated

Cyclone ‘Titli’ made landfall on the eastern coast of the country early on Thursday claiming eight lives and wrecking havoc in Srikakulam and Vizianagaram districts of Andhra Pradesh, while causing widespread damage in neighbouring Odisha.

While no loss of lives were reported in Odisha, the very severe cyclonic storm left a trail of destruction in Gajapati and Ganjam districts of state, uprooting trees, electric poles and damaging hutments.

According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), Cyclone Titli made its landfall near Palasa in Srikakulam district, south west of Gopalpur in Odisha with an estimated maximum sustained surface wind speed of 140-150 kilometer per hour (kmph) gusting to 165 kmph between 4:30 am and 5:30 am.

The Andhra Pradesh state disaster management authority (SDMA) said the cyclone caused widespread damage in Srikakulam and Vizianagaram, and threw normal life out of gear as heavy to very heavy rains lashed the two north coastal districts districts since late Wednesday night.

While a 62-year-old woman died at Gudivada Agraharam village after a tree fell on her, a 55-year-old man died in a house collapse at Rotanasa village in Srikakulam district, the SDMA said. The Andhra Pradesh chief minister’s office (CMO) said the six others killed were fishermen who had ventured into the sea.

Of the 67 fishing boats that had gone into the sea over the last few days from Kakinada in East Godavari district, 65 had returned to the shore safely, the CMO said, adding efforts were on to bring back the remaining two boats.

The road network in Srikakulam district suffered extensive damage, while the power distribution network was also severely affected. More than 2,000 electric poles were uprooted by strong winds.

The Eastern Power Distribution Company, that caters to the electricity needs of the north coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh, reported that the distribution system for 4,319 villages and six towns in Srikakulam district was affected.

In Odisha, Cyclone Titli led to very heavy rainfall in Ganjam, Gajapati and Puri districts and caused minor damage to power supply and communication. In all, eight districts — Ganjam, Gajapati, Khurda, Puri, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Bhadrak and Balasore -- have been affected by the cyclonic storm, Special Relief Commissioner BP Sethi said. “There has been no major destruction or report of casualty from any part of the state so far. Some damages like uprooting of trees and electric poles and damage to hutments were reported from Ganjam and Gajapati districts,” he said.

Power supply and telephone links got disrupted, and road communication snapped due to uprooted trees at many places in Gajapati district, Sethi said, adding efforts are now on to clear the blocked roads and to restore power supply in affected areas.

Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik reviewed the situation in the state and instructed officials to expedite restoration efforts once the situation improves. He also directed the officials concerned to provide relief materials to cyclone-affected people.

“The chief minister gave instruction to send two more teams of NDRF to Gajapati where extensive damage has been caused to roads, hutments, electric and telephone poles," chief secretary AP Padhi said.

Thirteen teams of the national disaster response force (NDRF) and Orissa disaster rapid action force have been deployed in affected areas along with fire brigade personnel. “The damage is less than what we had feared,” the chief secretary said.

Padhi said the state government rescued over three lakh people to safe places, which helped avoid loss of life in the natural calamity. The survivors are housed in 1,112 shelters where food and sanitation facilities are available, he said.