As many as 64,000 people in the north coastal districts of Srikakulam, Vizianagaram, Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh are being evacuated to safer places as 'super cyclone' Phailin is expected to hit the Bay of Bengal coast between Srikakulam and Gopalpur in Odisha by Saturday evening.
Gales with a speed of 205-215 kmph are expected when the cyclone crosses the coast, AP Revenue Minister N Raghuveera Reddy said.
"Sometimes the gale speed may even touch 235 kmph while heavy to very heavy rainfall of up to 25 cm is also likely under the impact," he told reporters here this afternoon.
Phailin currently lay centred about 500 km off Visakhapatnam.
"The sea tides may rise to a height of three mts," he added.
The Minister said he spoke to Collectors of coastal districts and have put them on high alert.
Army, Navy and National Disaster Response Force personnel have already been positioned in vulnerable coastal districts while Inspector General of Police (north-coastal zone) Ch Dwaraka Tirumala Rao has been asked to coordinate with other departments to ensure effective communications in case of emergency.
"In 1996, we had a super cyclone and Phailin is expected to be of the same intensity. We cannot stop the cyclone but we will try to minimise the damage through collective efforts," Raghuveera said and appealed to people in vulnerable areas to heed the administration's advise for safety.
"People need not panic as the government is fully geared up to meet the eventuality," he said.
AP has been hit by 74 cyclones in the last 124 years, including 30 in the month of October. Phailin will be the 31st cyclone in October.