Patnaik stresses on saving lives as countdown for cyclone Yaas begins

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(Fixing typo in intro) Bhubaneswar, May 25 (PTI) As the countdown for Wednesday's landfall of the very severe cyclonic storm 'Yaas' begins,Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Tuesday asked officials to take all possible steps to protect human lives.

Patnaik conducted a meeting to take stock of the cyclone situation in the state which has already started impacting lives across the coastal districts as heavy rain pounced with blowing of wind at a speed of about 60 kmph.

'Every life is precious, thus all possible steps should be taken to protect life,' the Odisha chief minister said.

While the severe cyclonic storm Yaas is moving at a speed of around 15 kmph and presently lies about 180 km off Paradip coast, Odisha government rushed men, machines and medicines to the districts likely to be affected before Wednesday noon.

The Doppler radar at Paradip has meanwhile located the 'eye' of the severe cyclonic storm Yaas, sources said.

'To be very specific, the cyclone is likely to make landfall near Dhamra port between Basudevpur in Bhadrak district and Bahanaga in Balasore district on Wednesday,' Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) PK Jena informed Patnaik at the review meeting.

The SRC said the landfall process will begin at 4 am of Wednesday and continue for four hours till 8 am and all 77 blocks have been kept under high-impact zone category.

Wind speed during the landfall will be around 140-155 kmph, gusting to 180 kmph, Jena said.

On the rescue, relief and restoration preparedness, the SRC said 52 teams of NDRF, 60 teams of ODRAF, 206 Fire Service teams and 86 wood cutting teams of forest department have already been deployed in 10 coastal and adjoining districts.

Keeping in view the tidal surge warning of 2 meter to 4.5 meters during the landfall time, which will continue for about four hours, Jena said evacuation process is going on in full swing.

Over 3 lakh have already been evacuated from the low- lying, local surge pockets and vulnerable areas to safe place.

The process will be completed by tonight, he said.

The state has 860 permanent shelters and 6,200 temporary homes identified where 7 to 8 lakh can be safely accommodated observing COVID protocol, he said.

Each person in the shelter is being given face mask, sanitiser and facilities of hand wash is there in the shelters. This apart, free kitchens have started operating in all places, Jena added.

While arrangements have been made to take the COVID-19 patients staying in unsafe buildings, Jena said pregnant and expecting mothers in districts are being shifted to 'Maa Gruha' or Community Health Centres.

The high-risk pregnant women are being shifted to nearest hospitals, he added.

The SRC also urged people not to come out of their house during the cyclone and specifically asked youths to refrain from taking selfie during the cyclone.

He claimed that all the fishermen from Odisha have meanwhile returned to the coast and awareness is being made through public announcement system asking them not to venture into the sea till May 27th as the sea condition is rough to very rough.

The IMD also suggested the authorities to keep hoisted Great Danger Signal No. 10 (GD10) at Paradip and Dhamra Ports of Odisha, Great Danger Signal No. 8 (GD8) at Puri Port and Local Cautionary Signal No. 3 (LC3) at Gopalpur Port of Odisha.

Commodore N P Pradeep, Naval Officer-in_Charge, Odisha & Commanding Officer INS Chilka said the Indian Navy is closely monitoring the movement of the cyclonic storm Yaas.

Headquarters, Eastern Naval Command, and Naval Officers-in- Charge at West Bengal and Odisha area have carried out preparatory activities to combat the effects of the cyclone and are in constant touch with the state administrations for rendering assistance.

As part of the preparedness, eight flood relief teams and four diving teams are prepositioned at Odisha and West Bengal to augment the existing resources.

Four naval ships are on standby with Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) bricks, diving, and medical teams to render assistance in the most affected areas along the Odisha and West Bengal coast, he said.

Naval aircraft have been kept ready at Naval Air Stations, INS Dega at Visakhapatnam and INS Rajali near Chennai to undertake an aerial survey of the most affected areas, casualty evacuation, and airdrop of relief material as required, the official said.

Meanwhile, reports of tree uprooting has reached here from Bhandaripokhari in Bhadrak district, Simulia in Balasore district and house damage at Rajkanika in Kendrapara district under the impact of heavy rains and wind, sources said.

The IMD in its latest bulletin informed that the severe cyclonic storm 'Yaas' has intensified into a Very Severe Cyclonic Storm.

The system moved north-northwestwards with a speed of about 15 kmph during past 6 hours, and lay centred at about 160 km east-southeast of Paradip (Odisha), 250 km south- southeast of Balasore (Odisha), 240 km south-southeast of Digha (West Bengal) and 230 km south of Sagar Islands (West Bengal).

The cyclone is very likely to move north-northwestwards, intensify further and reach near north Odisha coast close to Dhamra port by the early morning of Wednesday, it said.

It is very likely to cross north Odisha-West Bengal coasts close to north of Dhamra and south of Balasore, during noon of Wednesday as a very severe cyclonic storm, the bulletin said.

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