The eastern Indian coast is bracing itself for the third time in recent weeks for a ‘very severe’ cyclone, set to be accompanied by winds in the range of 200kph.
Media reports quoting the Indian Meteorological Department said Cyclone Lehar (meaning wave) is now some 700km off the eastern coast, and is set to intensify into a very severe cyclonic storm as it makes landfall on Thursday afternoon.
The brunt of the cyclone will be borne by the coast along Andhra Pradesh state with the landfall expected near Kakinada, some 465km east of the provincial capital of Hyderabad.
The current series of cyclones began on October 12 when Cyclone Phailin devastated no less than 17 districts of neighbouring Odisha state on the eastern coast. Andhra Pradesh too was affected.
This was followed by Cyclone Helen on November 22. Thousands in Andhra Pradesh, which bore the brunt, had to be evacuated. Six people died and standing crops across hundreds of hectares were damaged.
The government has asked fishermen to stop venturing into the sea. Schools and other educational institutions have already been ordered shut while the army, navy and coastguard have been placed on high alert, according to media reports.
The State Government has asked New Delhi to send several teams from the federal government’s National Disaster Response Force along with helicopters and other emergency aid.