Phethai: AP CM conducts aerial survey; Missing fishermen safe

Amaravati/Visakhapatnam: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu Tuesday conducted an aerial survey of Cyclone Phethai-hit districts of East and West Godavari districts in the State, even as rescue and relief measures were stepped up.

Naidu interacted with people, who have been lodged in a relief camp at Bhairavapalem village, and enquired about food and other facilities. Officials said about 12-crew members and fishermen of three deep-sea fishing trawlers, who went missing in the Bay of Bengal Monday, were reported safe Tuesday.

Another group of 14 fishermen, stranded at sea off Kakinada coast, were rescued in an operation by the Coast Guard. Three boats that drifted in the sea under the impact of Phethai reached Sorlagondi near Nagayalanka in Krishna district Tuesday, according to the State Real-Time Governance Centre (RTGS).

“Twelve people, who were reported missing Monday, were safe,” RTGS CEO Babu Ahamed told PTI. Meanwhile, a release from the Coast Guard Station in Visakhapatnam said 14 fishermen stranded in two boats at sea off Kakinada were rescued Tuesday.

The fishermen, who were stranded close to the ONGC rig, were airlifted in two sorties by a Coast Guard helicopter and brought back to Kakinada, the release added.

The Eastern Naval Command in Visakhapatnam said a Naval Dornier aircraft from INS Dega was launched Tuesday to undertake an aerial survey of coastal areas around Kakinada affected by cyclone Phethai.

The aircraft carried out recce from Visakhapatnam along the coast up to Machilipatnam, a naval release said. Photographs taken by the aircraft revealed flooding in low lying areas, including paddy fields in Kothapalli, Katrenikona villages and Sursani Yanam, south of Kakinada, the Navy said.

Preliminary estimates prepared by government agencies revealed that agriculture and horticulture crops in over 14,000 hectares suffered widespread damage due to Phethai.

Paddy crop, ready for harvesting in a few more days, was the worst-affected, followed by banana plantations, maize, tobacco and other crops. A detailed enumeration is being carried out to assess the exact damage, even as Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu directed the officials concerned to complete the process quickly so that compensation could be paid to affected farmers by 20 December.

Naidu held a review meeting with ministers and East Godavari district officials at Kakinada. The chief minister said the State government could make effective use of technology and precisely estimate the cyclone movement.

“We could take all precautionary measures because of this and ensure there was no loss of life,” he said. Generators were used for power supply in affected regions while 140 tankers have been deployed for drinking water supply.

Communication and road networks were restored in quick time, bringing relief to people, he added. Araku Valley in Visakhapatnam district recorded the maximum 23 cm of rain Monday followed by Tallarevu (17 cm) in East Godavari district.

Many parts of West Godavari, Krishna and Guntur districts also received rain under the impact of Phethai, the chief minister said. Cyclone Phethai lashed coastal Andhra Pradesh yesterday, triggering heavy rains, uprooting trees and electric poles, and claiming one life, before moving towards Odisha.