12. 40 pm
Thousands evacuated in Andhra as Phailin moves closer
Thousands of people were evacuated from north coastal Andhra as the cyclonic storm Phailin in Bay of Bengal further intensified and was set to hit the eastern coast by Saturday evening.
The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has issued a warning for north Andhra and Odisha coasts. According to an IMD bulletin issued Saturday morning, Phailin centered about 260 km southeast of Gopalpur, 270 km east-southeast of Kalingapatnam and 310 km south-southeast of Paradip.
"It would move northwestwards and cross north Andhra Pradesh and Odisha coasts between Kalingapatnam and Paradip, close to Gopalpur (Odisha) by evening as a very severe cyclonic storm with a maximum sustained wind speed of 210-220 kmph gusting to 240 kmph," it said.
Over 64,000 people were evacuated from low lying areas near the coast in Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam districts in north coastal Andhra. Authorities went on high alert in all nine coastal districts.
12. 00 pm
Airlines change flight routes to steer clear of cyclone
While Cyclone Phailin is expected to disrupt flight movements at Bhubaneswar airport, thunderstorm clouds over the Bay of Bengal near Odisha are leading to flight deviations on the busy Mumbai-Bangkok and Bangkok-Gulf routes. Usually, planes between these sectors take two routes that pass over Odisha. Now, they have to take a detour and fly over Kolkata.
Thanks to the advance cyclone warning, airlines have changed the flight plans and pilots, too, have taken precautions to steer clear off thunderstorm clouds. “Weather-related deviations have been taking place since Thursday night. The deviation means higher fuel burn and flight delays,” an air traffic controller said.
Meanwhile, Bhubaneswar airport is bracing for an emergency and contingency plans have been drawn up. The airport handles 38 daily flight movements and so far, no airline has announced cancellations. “We are fully prepared to handle the situation. The main concern is possible power outage due to the cyclone and we have got power backup and generator sets for at least two days,” said airport director Sharad Kumar.
11. 00 am
52,000 people evacuated in Srikakulam
As many as 52,000 locals were today evacuated and 25,000 people accommodated in cyclone shelters in Srikakulam district in view of cyclone Phailin which is expected to cross the shore by this evening.
"In addition to the Naval and Coast Guard forces, five teams of National Disaster Relief Force are also ready to swing into action in case of an emergency," a senior official told PTI.
Naval and Coast Guard services have been kept on standby in case of emergency.
BSF and CRPF personnel, who are already assisting the local administration in view of the Seemandhra agitation, have also be called in case of emergency, the official added.
9. 50 am
Heavy rains lash Odisha as cyclone Phailin advances
High wind and heavy rain lashed the coastal belt of Odisha Saturday disrupting normal life, as the severe cyclonic storm Phailin advances from the Bay of Bengal, and is expected to make landfall by Saturday evening, officials said.
Authorities continued their efforts to evacuate people from the low-laying areas of the coast to the cyclone shelters and high rise buildings. The weatherman predicted that the speed and intensity of the wind and rain are likely to grow stronger during the day.
Special relief commissioner Pradeep Kumar Mohapatra said about three lakh people have been already moved to safer places, and more people are likely to be shifted during next couple of hours.
He told IANS the wind speed was picking up in several areas. In Ganjam, it has reached 60-80 km/h and the sea was witnessing high tide.
8. 40 am
Obamas salute Malala's inspiring work on girls' education
US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama met with Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan at the White House on Friday, thanking her for her "inspiring and passionate work" on girls' education in Pakistan.
"The United States joins with the Pakistani people and so many around the world to celebrate Malala's courage and her determination to promote the right of all girls to attend school and realize their dreams," reported Xinhua citing the White House in a statement.
South Africa to host BRICS urbanisation forum
South Africa will host the BRICS urbanisation forum in Durban next month, it was officially announced Friday.
The meeting to be held from Nov 25 -27 will have "Towards Sustainable Urbanisation" as its theme, reported Xinhua citing Durban spokesperson Khaya Sengani.
"The forum will provide a platform for member countries to develop a common approach that will facilitate cooperation and exchange of information on urbanisation challenges," the spokesperson said.
It will be attended by government leaders, urban development managers, international non-governmental organisations and other important stakeholders from around the world.