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'Super cyclone' moving at 167mph hits the east coast of India: More than 600,000 people evacuated


  • 125mph winds have hit east coast states Orissa and Andhra Pradesh 
  • Around 600,000 have been evacuated from the area, state officials say
  • Satellite images from this morning show cyclone filling almost the entire Bay of Bengal area - an area the size of France
  • Winds of up to 167mph predicted by Meteorologial Department
  • A deadly super-cyclone in 1999 killed more than 10,000 people in the area

A powerful super-cyclone is battering the east coast of India after making land earlier yesterday afternoon with more than 600,000 people already evacuated from their homes.  

Categorised as 'very severe' by weather forecasters, Cyclone Phailin, is expected to hit Orissa and Andhra Pradesh states the hardest. 

The U.S. Navy's Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Hawaii showed maximum sustained winds of about  138mph, with gusts up to 167mph.




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A few hours before it hit land, the eye of the storm collapsed, spreading the hurricane force winds out over a larger area and giving it a 'bigger damage footprint' .


U.S meterologist Jeff Masters, said: 'It's probably a bad thing it was doing this when it made landfall. Much of the housing in India is unable to withstand even a much weaker hurricane.
'This is a remarkably strong storm. It's going to carry hurricane-force winds inland for about 12 hours, which is quite unusual.'

Hurricanes typically lose much of their force when they hit land, where there is less heat-trapping moisture feeding energy into the storm.

As the cyclone swept across the Bay of Bengal toward the Indian coast, satellite images showed its spinning tails covering an area larger than France.

Images appeared to show the storm making landfall early Saturday night near Gopalpur.
With some of the world's warmest waters, the Indian Ocean is considered a cyclone hot spot, and some of the deadliest storms in recent history have come through the Bay of Bengal, including a 1999 cyclone that also hit Orissa and killed 10,000 people.

Officials said early reports of deaths from Phailin won't become clear until after daybreak Sunday.

In Behrampur, a town about 10 kilometers (7 miles) inland from where the eye of the storm hit, the sky blackened quickly around the time of landfall, with heavy winds and rains pelting the empty streets.

Window panes shook and shattered against the wind. Outside, objects could be heard smashing into walls.

'My parents have been calling me regularly ... they are worried,' said Hemant Pati, 27, who was holed up in a Behrampur hotel with 15 other people from the coastal town hit first by the storm.

The hotel manager said he would bar the doors against anyone trying to enter, saying there would be food, water and electricity from generators only for guests of the Hotel Jyoti Residency. 'Nobody can come inside, and nobody can go out,' Shaik Nisaruddin said.

Stranded tourists who had come for Orissa's beaches and temples instead roamed the hallways of boarded-up hotels.

'It seemed strange, because it was a beautiful sunny day yesterday,' said Doris Lang of Honolulu, who was with a friend in the seaside temple town of Puri when news of the cyclone's approach reached them.
The state's top official, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, appealed for calm.

'I request everyone to not panic. Please assist the government. Everyone from the village to the state headquarters have been put on alert,' he told reporters.

Surya Narayan Patro, the state's top disaster management official, had said that 'no one will be allowed to stay in mud and thatched houses in the coastal areas' when the storm hits.
By Saturday afternoon, the sea had already pushed inland as much as 40 meters (130 feet) along parts of the coastline.

Officials in both Orissa and Andhra Pradesh have been stockpiling emergency food supplies and setting up shelters. The Indian military has put some of its forces on alert, and has trucks, transport planes and helicopters at the ready for relief operations.

The evacuated people have been taken to specially-built cyclone camps in the two states.

There are more than 500 such shelters that have been set up – each cyclone shelter can accommodate at least 1,500 people. Agencies swung into action a day before the anticipated landfall that eventually happened at around 9 pm on Saturday.

The storm is expected to cause large-scale power and communications outages and shut down road and rail links, officials said. It's also expected to cause extensive damage to crops.
In the port city of Paradip - which was hammered in the 1999 cyclone, also in October - at least seven ships were moved out to sea to ride out the storm, with other boats shifted to safer parts of the harbor, officials said.

U.S. forecasters had repeatedly warned that Phailin would be immense.

'If it's not a record, it's really, really close,' University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy told The Associated Press. 'You really don't get storms stronger than this anywhere in the world ever.'

To compare it to killer U.S. storms, McNoldy said Phailin is nearly the size of Hurricane Katrina, which killed 1,200 people in 2005 and caused devastating flooding in New Orleans, but also has the wind power of 1992's Hurricane Andrew, which packed 265 kph (165 mph) winds at landfall in Miami.
India experiences two cyclone seasons a year, one in May before the annual monsoon rains and another beginning in October.

'Keep in mind, India's second cyclone season is only just beginning,' said Masters, the American meteorologist. 'We could see another big storm in October or November.'

Aid agencies are gearing up to help the people in coastal town as the country braces itself for the biggest cyclone in 14 years.

By Friday evening, some 600,000 people had been moved to higher ground or shelters in Orissa, said Surya Narayan Patro - the state's top disaster management official.

About 12 hours before Cyclone Phailin's expected landfall, meteorologists held out hope that it might hit while in a temporary weakened state.
The storm has been powerful for nearly 36 hours and those winds have built up tremendous amount of surge, Maue said.

Black skies above Bhubaneshwar, the capital of Orissa state - which is expected to bear the brunt of the cyclone - continued 60 miles out to sea this morning.

Roaring winds made palm trees sway wildly, while to the south of the state seawater was already pushing inland.

Officials canceled holy day celebrations and stockpiled emergency supplies in coastal Orissa and Andhra Pradesh states.
Government workers and volunteers were putting together hundreds of thousands of food packages to be distributed at relief camps.

The state's top official, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, appealed for people to cooperate with officials as they order people to leave their homes.

'I request everyone to not panic. Please assist the government. Everyone from the village to the state headquarters have been put on alert,' he told reporters.

Children's charity World Vision said its teams on the ground were already seeing signs of the storm.

Dharmendra Naik, manager of its programmes in Jagathsinghpur district, said: 'Our staff along the coast have been seeing rain falling continuously and winds pick up. People have been trying to stock up on essentials and that has caused the price of many items to be driven higher.'

Kunal Shah, the head of the charity's emergency response in India, said: 'In a storm of this magnitude there is the potential for widespread damage to crops and livestock in the low-lying coastal areas and houses completely wiped away. So while we are praying this storm loses intensity, we're also preparing.'

Save the Children said it was on the ground stockpiling emergency supplies including food, health and hygiene kits and tarpaulin sheets.

Plan International is also in contact with partners in India, ready to intervene to help families affected.
In Paradip, the Orissa port city hammered in a 1999 cyclone, at least seven ships were put to sea to ride out the storm, with other boats shifted to safer parts of the harbor, officials said.

U.S. forecasters repeatedly warned that the storm would be immense.

'If it's not a record it's really, really close,' University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy said.

'You really don't get storms stronger than this anywhere in the world ever. This is the top of the barrel'.

To compare it to killer U.S. storms, McNoldy said cyclone Phailin is nearly the size of Hurricane Katrina, which killed 1,200 people in 2005 and caused devastating flooding in New Orleans.

He said it also has the wind power of 1992's Hurricane Andrew, which packed 165 mph winds at landfall in Miami.

If the storm continues on its current path without weakening, it is expected to cause large-scale power and communications outages and shut down road and rail links, officials said. There would also be extensive damage to crops.

One official said tens of thousands of more people will be moved to safer areas before the cyclone hits. 'No one will be allowed to stay in mud and thatched houses in the coastal areas,' he said. 

The government also began evacuating 64,000 people from the low-lying areas of three vulnerable districts in neighboring Andhra Pradesh state, said state Revenue Minister N. Raghuveera Reddy.

The sea had already pushed inland as much as 130 ft in parts of Andhra Pradesh.

Officials have been stockpiling emergency food supplies, and setting up shelters for people expected to flee the heavy winds and rains. The Indian air force said four transport planes and 18 helicopters were being kept ready for relief operations in the region.

The Bay of Bengal has been the scene of some of the deadliest storms in recent history. The 1999 Orissa cyclone, which was similar in strength to Phailin, killed 10,000 people.



































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