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30,000 evacuated in Andhra as Laila nears

Hyderabad: Nearly 30,000 people were on Wednesday evacuated from low-lying areas of coastal Andhra Pradesh as cyclone Laila raced on to hit the state with a wind speed of 125 kmph.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister K Rosaiah this evening spoke to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and requested the help of armed forces in possible rescue efforts as the weather department warned of six-foot high tidal waves and disruption of communication and power supplies.

Three persons were killed when a shed collapsed in a village in Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh and a fisherman drowned in rough sea off Tamil Nadu as the two states were lashed by heavy rains.

Authorities moved hundreds of residents of 777 villages in four coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh to schools and government buildings for temporary shelter and alerted the emergency teams.

The coastal regions of Andhra, including Guntur, Nellore, Prakasam, East and West Godavari districts, experienced heavy rains throughout the day under the influence of the storm.

Warning number 10 (high state of alert) has been issued to all major ports in Andhra Pradesh and Reliance Industries suspended crude oil and gas production from its Krishna Godavari basin MA fields in the Bay of Bengal as a precautionary measure.

Normal life was thrown into disarray in several parts of Tamil Nadu as Laila triggered widespread rains and strong winds.

People waded through knee-deep water as many parts of Chennai and its suburbs were inundated with road traffic moving at snail’s peace. Gales uprooted trees at many places while over 140 anchored boats were damaged by strong winds.

Coastal areas of Chennai, Nagapattinam, Cuddalore, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur were lashed by heavy rains since Tuesday night. Four fishermen were injured when five boats capsized in Cuddalore district, officials said.

The cyclonic storm is likely to trigger heavy rains at some places in south and north Orissa on Thursday. Weathermen also predicted heavy rains in Gangetic West Bengal.

West Bengal Finance Minister Asim Dasgupta said an alert has been sounded in the metropolis and the districts of East Midnapore, North and South 24 Parganas, Howrah, Hooghly and Nadia.

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