Lord forgive me, but all I keep thinking about is the possible backwash of the Ganges river
12 October 2013
Last updated at 11:20 ET
Cyclone Phailin: Mass evacuations in eastern India
The BBC's Sanjoy Majumder: "The intensity of the winds has become stronger"
many as 500,000 people in India have been evacuated as a massive cyclone
sweeps through the Bay of Bengal towards the east coast.
Cyclone Phailin, categorised as "very severe" by weather
forecasters, is expected to hit Orissa and Andhra Pradesh states on
The Meteorological Department has predicted the storm will bring winds of up to 220km/h (136mph).
A super-cyclone in 1999 killed more than 10,000 people in Orissa.
But officials say this time they are better prepared, the BBC's Sanjoy Majumder in Orissa reports.
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At the scene
BBC News, Orissa
As we drove towards Berhampur and the coastal resort town of
Gopalpur, where Cyclone Phailin is expected to make landfall, the
highway was lashed with heavy rain and strong winds.
Hardly anyone can be seen on the streets - the government has
managed to evacuate most people living along the coast, although some
are refusing to leave. Shops, businesses and even petrol stations are
shut. Most people have stocked up on provisions, unsure of what to
Our flight into Bhubaneshwar, Orissa's capital, landed on its
fourth attempt - the previous three were aborted due to strong winds.
Soon after we touched down, the airport was closed and remaining flights
Many people here have memories of the super cyclone that
struck Orissa in 1999 and are frightened of what Phailin may have in
store for them.
The Meteorological Department
said Cyclone Phailin was due to make landfall late on Saturday evening,
Indian time. The centre of the storm was expected to hit the coast around the town of Gopalpur.
Homes at risk
Officials said Cyclone Phailin would bring a storm surge of at
least 3m (10ft) that was likely to cause "extensive damage" to mud
houses on the coast.
"No-one will be allowed to stay in mud and thatched houses in
the coastal areas,'' said Orissa's Disaster Management Minister Surya
The army is on standby in the two states for emergency and
relief operations. Officials said helicopters and food packages were
ready to be dropped in the storm-affected areas.
Meanwhile, the US Navy's Joint Typhoon Warning Centre
predicted that Phailin could produce gusts of up to 296km/h (184 mph),
while the London-based Tropical Storm Risk classified Phailin as a
Category Five storm - the most powerful.
Cyclone Phailin is expected to be the biggest storm in the region for 14 years
Locals have been shutting up businesses and taking cover as the cyclone approaches
Relief operations are underway in Orissa to provide food and shelter for evacuees
As many as 500,000 people have left their homes, many for storm shelters
Parts of Orissa and Andhra Pradesh states have suffered heavy flooding in recent days
Fishermen have been asked not to venture out to sea.
Heavy rain and winds have already struck Orissa, where authorities have set up storm shelters for evacuees.
Janmejay Mohapatra, a resident of Orissa state capital
Bhubaneswar, said it was too dangerous to go out now, as trees were down
and debris was flying everywhere.
Latest weather forecast from BBC Weather
"Already the rain is very heavy and the wind is gusting at
100-120km an hour," he told the BBC. "The phone lines are down where I
am and we have no electricity."
Minister Surya Narayan Patra said:"We are fighting against
nature. We are better prepared this time, we learnt a lot from 1999."
India's eastern coast and Bangladesh are routinely hit by
cyclonic storms between April and November which cause deaths and
widespread damage to property.
In December 2011, Cyclone Thane hit the southern state of Tamil Nadu, killing dozens of people.