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Lehar alert in ten districts

Bhubaneswar, Nov. 25: The Odisha government today put 10 districts on high alert as the state, yet to recover fully from the impact of Phailin, braced for yet another cyclonic storm heading towards it.

Christened Lehar, the latest threat to Odisha and Andhra Pradesh, lay centred over the southeast Bay of Bengal about 1,070km from Gopalpur when the reports last came in.

“The system would intensify further gradually into a very severe cyclonic storm and would move west-northwestwards and cross Andhra Pradesh coast between Machillipatnam and Kalingapatnam near Kakinada around November 28 noon,” said a bulletin issued by the meteorological department here. The gale was moving towards Odisha and Andhra Pradesh coast at a speed of 15kmph.

Sources said the districts, where the government had sounded an alert, include Khurda, Kendrapara, Puri, Jagatsingpur, Ganjam, Gajapati, Koraput, Malkangiri, Nabarangpur and Rayagada. Most of these areas are likely to experience heavy to moderate rainfall accompanied by high velocity winds under the impact of the gale.

An official said when Lehar would make landfall at Kakinada, the maximum wind speed would be 200km per hour, but the intensity in Odisha would be much less. “As of now, the expected velocity of the wind in the state during the storm is 65kmph,” said S.C. Sahu, director of the Bhubaneswar meteorological centre. However, south Odisha districts such as Gajpati and Ganjam would experience heavy rainfall under the impact of the typhoon while Bargarh, Sonepur and Nupada in the western belt would witness moderate rain. Weatherman said light rain was expected in some of the coastal districts.

Special relief commissioner Pradipta Mohapatra said coastal and southern districts of the state had been put on alert and fishermen had been asked not to venture into the sea. The Distant Warning Signal No. 2 (DW-II) has been hoisted at Paradip and Gopalpur ports.

Sources said the government was mainly worried about the impact of the cyclone-triggered rain on the crops, especially because Lehar comes on the heels of Phailin, which had caused widespread damage in 14 districts of the state last month. Ganjam collector Krishna Kumar, who is still struggling to restore power supply in the district, was battening the hatches following the fresh cyclone warning. Kumar would be keen to contain possible damage to the power supply network and save the crops spared by Phailin.

Sources said the government had advised farmers to harvest their crops and shift the yield to safer places. “This is the only way they can save their crops. We are asking them to be prepared,” said an official, adding that Ganjam was among the most vulnerable districts so far cyclones were concerned.

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