Cyclone 'Jawad' shows mercy, spares India's east coast havoc

Representational image: IANS

Bhubaneswar/Visakhapatnam/Kolkata: India's east coast is unlikely to face the fury of cyclonic storm Jawad' which has weakened into a deep depression before reaching the Odisha-Andhra Pradesh coast but thousands of people living along the sea have been evacuated as a precautionary measure, officials said on Saturday.

However, a teenager was killed in Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh after a tree came crashing down on him in heavy rain under the influence of the tempest.

People of Odisha, already battered by cyclone 'Gulab' and 'Yaas' in the last year, heaved a sigh of relief as the storm began ebbing away while still rolling over the sea.

There was no rain in Odisha capital Bhubaneswar and coastal districts since noon, prompting the authorities to stop the evacuation.

"About 1,500 people have been evacuated, including 300 pregnant women. We have stopped evacuation now," an official said.

The system is likely to hit the Puri coast (Odisha) as a deep depression after getting weakened inside the sea during its journey to the shore, Weather Scientist US Dash of the Meteorological Centre, Bhubaneswar, said Saturday morning.

However, weatherman said in the evening that the deep depression will further weaken and Puri, where the cyclone was expected to make landfall, will witness rainfall and wind at 50-60 kmph Sunday afternoon.

A teenager was killed as heavy rain, under the influence of the cyclonic storm, lashed Srikakulam district on Saturday despite the north coastal Andhra Pradesh breathing easy as the tempest weakened. In Vajrapukothuru mandal, heavy winds uprooted a coconut tree that fell on a teenager Gorakala Indu (16), killing him instantly.

Several relief centres have been opened to lodge people from vulnerable areas, the Andhra Pradesh government said.

The sky was overcast in most places in Andhra Pradesh with some receiving rain.

The entire coastal region of Odisha was experiencing rainfall since Friday night.

Odisha authorities have sheltered fishing boats from Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal, which were unable to return to their destination within the stipulated time, and fishermen have been advised not to venture into the sea till December 5.

The West Bengal government evacuated thousands of people in South 24 Parganas and Purba Medinipur districts and urged tourists visiting popular sea resorts to stay away from beaches.

The weather office said in Kolkata that several places in the metropolis, North and South 24 Parganas, Purba and Paschim Medinipur, Jhargram, Howrah and Hooghly districts received light rainfall since Saturday morning.

The district authorities of South 24 Parganas and Purba Medinipur evacuated around 15,000 people from the coastal areas to safer locations.

The Director of Alipore Meteorological Office, Sanjib Bandyopadhyay, said, "There is little possibility of Jawad turning into a cyclonic storm when it reaches Bengal coastline on Sunday. It will become a deep depression, which will trigger rains across South Bengal and very heavy rains in some coastal areas.

"Light to moderate rainfall is very likely to occur over North and South 24 Parganas, Purba and Paschim Medinipur, Jhargram, Howrah, Hooghly districts, and in the city and Howrah. There will be light to moderate rains in many other parts of rest of the districts in Gangetic West Bengal," a bulletin from the meteorological department said in Kolkata.

A total of 19 National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams have been deployed in the state.

Quick response teams of the state power department, public works department, civil defence and disaster management have been kept ready. Bottled drinking water and other relief material like tarpaulin sheets and packaged food have already reached block development offices.

While almost all fishermen have returned, the authorities are coordinating with fishermen associations in coastal zones to find if anyone is still there in the deep sea, the official said.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is monitoring the situation.

Altogether 64 NDRF teams with 30 personnel each have been deployed, pre-positioned, or kept in reserve to tackle any eventuality, officials said. Saudi Arabia gave the cyclone its name 'Jawad'--the liberal or merciful. India's east coast, often battered by cyclonic storms, in all likelihood, will escape its wrath.

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