Cyclone Hudhud threatens east coast; PM Modi holds emergency meeting, rescue & relief teams ready

Visakhapatnam/Bhubaneswar, Oct 12: As clouds loom dangerously over Visakhapatnam, and cyclone Hudhud less than 24 hours from making landfall, Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired an emergency high-level meeting to review preparedness to combat the cyclone.

The meeting was attended by Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth, Principal Secretary to the PM Nripendra Mishra, Additional Principal Secretary to the PM PK Mishra, Home Secretary Anil Goswami, Defence Secretary Radha Krishna Mathur and other senior officials from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) and Prime Minister's Office (PMO).

Modi reviewed the threat due to cyclone Hudhud and asked Home Minister Rajnath Singh to remain in touch with chief ministers of states that are likely to be affected, an official statement said. "He instructed senior Union government officers to maintain close contact and coordination with officers of the affected states to ensure that relief and rescue operations proceed smoothly.

"He said suitable arrangements should be made to inform people about the cyclone on a real-time basis," it said.

The National Crisis Management Committee also met at 9 pm under the chairmanship of Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth to review preparedness for Hudhud. Seth, who heads the National Crisis Management Committee, has asked representatives of all central ministries, departments and Chief Secretaries of the state governments concerned to take necessary steps for preparedness to meet any eventuality from the cyclone.

Meanwhile, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has placed its five battalions (about 5,000 personnel) in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal and Bihar on high alert.

In Andhra Pradesh, six rescue and relief teams have already been deployed at Srikakulam, Vijay Nagaram, Visakhapatnam and East Godavari.

In Odisha, nine NDRF teams are being considered for deployment in Gajapati, Ganjam, Khurda, Cuttak, Puri and Balasore, the Ministry said.

Four teams each from NDRF Patna, Kolkata and Chennai are moving towards Odisha and Andhra Pradesh.

"Twenty-seven teams are being deployed in vulnerable areas as a proactive measure to mitigate the situation during cyclonic storm," the government release said.

A total of 162 boats and 54 deep diving sets with other flood rescue equipment are being sent to meet any challenges which may arise due to cyclonic storm Hudhud, it said.

Over 1 lakh people have been evacuated from five coastal districts in Andhra Pradesh. The Andhra Pradesh government has set up around 370 relief camps, stocked with food, medical emergencies and other essentials.

Odisha government has evacuated 3,50,000 people from eight districts , with over 1 lakh from Ganjam itself. Around 340 relief camps have been established. All flights and trains between Viskhapatnam and Bhubaneswar have also been cancelled.

The state government has also prepared contingency plans, expecting floods after the cyclone brings in heavy rains. NDRF and ODRAF teams have been deployed at strategic places to accomplish the government's mission to achieve zero casualties.

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