VISAKHAPATNAM: The 355-km stretch along the three north coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh braced itself for what could be a bigger disaster than Cyclone Nilam that hit the state coast in November 2012, with Cyclone Phailin (Thai name for Sapphire) fast approaching the Indian shores at a wind speed of 140-150 kms on Thursday.
Cyclone Phailin lay centred at 600 kms east-southeast of Visakhapatnam as on Thursday night and is expected to hit the north AP coast in the next 48 hours, wreaking havoc in its wake.
"The depression over the Bay of Bengal has on Thursday formed as very severe cyclonic storm and is likely to hit the three north coastal districts of Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam over the next 48 hours. If the system continues without any disruptions, Phailin will be more dangerous than Nilam that," a senior weatherman said.
According to the weatherman, the storm is expected to move northwestwards and cross north coastal AP and Odisha coast between Kalingapatnam in Srikakulam district and Gopalapur by Saturday evening at a wind speed of 175-185 kmph, which can cause extensive damage.
The impact of the impending cyclone has already been felt in the north coastal AP with some areas receiving good rainfall from Wednesday to Thursday morning. As the coastal villages are expected to be the worst hit, the officials concerned have been asked to take all necessary arrangements to prevent damage to the general public as well as cattle due to the natural calamity.
Distant warning signal number II was hoisted at Visakhapatnam, Machilipatnam, Nizampatnam and Krishnapatnam ports while distant warning signal number II with section signal number III was kept hoisted at Kakinada and Gangavaram ports.