Super Cyclone Phailin is hurtling towards the east coast and the latest prediction is that it could surpass Hurricane Katrina which devastated the US in 2005. It is forecast to hit the coast between Kalingapatnam in Andhra Pradesh and Paradip in Odisha late Saturday evening with a maximum wind speed of 185 kmph, says the weatherman.
However, both London-based Tropical Storm and the US navy's Joint Typhoon Warning Centre have forecast winds reaching 315 kmph on landfall and have classified Phailin as a Category 5 storm — the most powerful . In fact, it would mean that Phailin could be the strongest cyclone ever in the Indian Ocean.
Hurricane Katrina hit the US Gulf coast in August, 2005, killing more than 1,800 people, driving 21 lakh from their homes and causing $75 billion of damage. Cyclones in the Bay of Bengal are common at this time, often causing deaths, evacuations, power and telecom disruptions.
The authorities have begun moving people living along Odisha's coastline to shelters. The government has cancelled workers' holidays to prepare for the storm, and the Army, Navy and Air Force have been put on high alert for rescue and relief operations. Rations are being pre-positioned in cyclone shelters, schools and other buildings on higher ground, control rooms set up and fishing suspended. Fishermen have been advised not to go inside the sea in the next few days.