Fresh cyclone threat looms over Andhra coast

    By IANS,

    Hyderabad : Even before the authorities in Andhra Pradesh could take up enumeration of damage caused by last week’s cyclone Helen, a fresh threat looms over its coast.

    Christened Lehar, the severe cyclonic storm crossed Andaman and Nicobar Islands near Port Blair early Monday.

    According to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), the cyclone over southeast Bay of Bengal is centred 1,300 east-southeast of Machilipatnam, 1,230 km east-southeast of Kainada and 1,140 km of Kalingapatnam.

    “The system would intensify further gradually into a very severe cyclonic storm and would move west-northwestwards and cross Andhra Pradesh coast between Machilipatnam and Kalingapatnam near Kakinada around Nov 28 noon,” said an IMD bulletin issued Monday morning.

    Gale winds speed reaching 170-180 kmph gusting to 200 kmph are likely at the time of the landfall.

    The IMD has forecast rainfall at most places with heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places with isolated extremely heavy falls (25 cm or more) over Andaman and Nicobar Islands during next 18 hours.

    Helen, which crossed Andhra coast near Machilipatnam Friday, claimed six lives and damaged crops over 4.6 lakh hectares. According to initial estimate by the disaster management department, the cyclone caused a loss of Rs.1,628 crore.

    Helen struck the state before the state could recover from the damages caused by last month’s cyclone Phailin and heavy rains, which killed 58 people and damaged crops over 13 lakh hectares.

    The state has sought an assistance of Rs.6,500 crore from the central government for relief and rehabilitation in areas affected by Phailin and heavy rains.