India evacuates 150,000 as cyclone Hudhud intensifies


About 150,000 people were evacuated on India’s eastern seaboard on Saturday as cyclone Hudhud bore down and grew in sheer force, threatening to devastate farmland and fishing villages when it hits the coast on Sunday morning.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) rated Hudhud as a very severe cyclonic storm that could pack gusts of 195 km/h and dump more than 24.5 cm of rain when it makes landfall.

The Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System (GDACS), run by the United Nations and the European Commission, forecast even higher peak wind speeds of 212 km/h. That would make Hudhud a Category 4 storm capable of inflicting “catastrophic” damage.

Around 150,000 people have been evacuated in Andhra Pradesh to high-rise buildings, shelters and relief centres, said senior disaster management official Hymabati. A further 50,000 may still be moved to safety, she added.

Authorities further north in Odisha said they were monitoring the situation and would, if necessary, move 300,000 people most at risk to nearby shelters.

“We have already shifted about 10,000 people from low-lying areas and plan to evacuate 14,000 more,” N. Yubaraj, administrative chief of the coastal district of Visakhapatnam, told Reuters.

Visakhapatnam, also known as Vizag, is the largest city in Andhra Pradesh and hosts a major Indian naval base.