Cyclone Helen on Friday evening crossed the sea at the port town of Machilipatnam in Andhra Pradesh, causing heavy rains in the coastal districts in the last 24 hours. Reports said trees were uprooted and power supply infrastructure was damaged under the impact of high speed winds that lashed the coastal region since Thursday evening.
Six people have reportedly died in rain-related incidents, while crop has been damaged in thousands of acres across East Godavari, West Godavari and Krishna districts, as per last reports received. As many as 4,000 people have been shifted to temporary camps from the low-lying areas in these districts, officials said. Rainfall measuring 11 cm was recorded in the port city of Visakhapatnam.
Meanwhile, coast guard personnel launched a search operation for the 20 fishermen who had gone missing off the Kakinada coast, said East Godavari District Collector Neethu Prasad. The weather department said the cyclone was expected to weaken in the next six hours turning into a depression while moving further inside across the Telangana region.
Earlier in the day, Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy asked the officials to coordinate with the National Disaster and Response Force, police, fire and medical departments to handle the situation. He also directed the chief secretary to seek the Coast Guard's help for rescue boats and helicopter to find the missing fishermen.
C Parthasarathi, commissioner, disaster management, in the evening said two of the three boats with fishermen had been found and the search for the third was on. According to him, two people had died in Krishna district.
Operations at major ports comes to halt
Cargo handling operations at Visakhapatnam and Kakinada ports came to a halt from Thursday evening due to heavy winds and rains caused by Cyclone Helen. Movements of vessels too have been stopped. A senior Kakinada port official said six vessels were waiting for berthing space.
At Visakhapatnam port, barring crude oil handling, all other handling activities have been stopped. Here too 10 vessels are lying on the berths, and another 20 are waiting for berthing space. Port officials expect normalcy by Saturday evening. Operations at Gangavaram port too have slowed down.