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Cyclone Hudhud impact: Death toll rises to 35 in Andhra Pradesh

Hyderabad: District authorities on Wednesday reported nine more death cases in the wake of the devastation caused by cyclone Hudhud even as the worst-hit Visakhapatnam city was limping back to normalcy with adequate supplies of essential commodities.

The State Disaster Management Authority this evening put the death toll due to Sunday's cyclone at 35 but with a rider that they are "yet to confirm" whether these deaths are indeed caused due to the fury unleashed by Hudhud that struck the Andhra coast on Sunday while making a landfall at Vizag.

Read: Hudhud Cyclone

Nearly 8,000 houses and more than 8,300 electric poles and transformers were damaged in Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram and Srikakulam districts in the nature's fury.

Though the exact financial loss is yet to be ascertained, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu said that the initial estimates indicate that it can go up to Rs 70,000 crore.

"It is very difficult to assess the damage and loss caused by the cyclone. We are still getting reports whether it (total losses in all cyclone-hit districts) is Rs 60,000 crore or Rs 70,000 crore. We cannot come to a figure now. Our immediate priority is to conduct rescue and relief operations in the cyclone-hit areas," Naidu said.

The central teams (for assessment of losses) are expected to arrive in Andhra Pradesh in a day or two, he said.

Meanwhile, normalcy is returning to the port city with restoration of essential supplies and public transportation services, three days after it was battered by Hudhud.

The residents of Visakhapatnam faced a lot of hardships as electricity and essential items like milk were not available and communication network having virtually collapsed due to the devastation caused by the cyclone.

The chief minister, camping in the city to oversee relief operations, has directed officials to supply a package of food items like rice, dal, edible oil and some vegetables to the cyclone-hit people free of cost.

Fishing-dependent people in Vizag face wrath of cyclone hudhud

Tens of thousands ofpeople dependent on fishing and related activities in the port city devastated by cyclone hudhud are staring at uncertainty as large number boats are either damaged or sunk.

To make matters worse, the fishing boat operators and fishermen had no insurance cover and they are now looking at government support to bail them out.

"As many as 50,000 people who are dependent on fishing and related activities are now looking at uncertainty as about 400 boats have been damaged in the cyclone fury and 72 sunk without a trace," said Andhra Pradesh Mechanised Fishing Boat Operators Association president P C Appa Rao.

The normally bustling fishing harbour here, which does a business of around Rs 1.5 crore a day, seemed to be in shambles as the area was strewn with damaged boats and debris, with fishermen in grief.

"We had stopped venturing into sea for fishing three days before the cyclone hit, as per the warning issued by the government. Now, we aren't sure how long it will take again to resume out activities," he said.

Read: Hudhud Cyclone

"We request the government to give us new boats or bear the cost to repair damages. Each boat costs anywhere between Rs 20 lakh and Rs 25 lakh," he said.

The Association's secretary, Mugi Ramudu, said human losses were averted as the government had alerted the communities well in advance.

Appa Rao said the operators and fishermen had stopped paying premium to insurance companies as they had posed many questions at the time of claims earlier.

While admitting that there could be one or two false claims in the past, it cannot be the reason to avoid all claims by insurance companies, he said.

With supply chain infrastructure such as cold storage damaged, Ramudu wondered what purpose would it serve even if they went for "hunting" (fishing) now.

Read: Hudhud Cyclone

It costs about Rs 20,000 to operate a boat per trip but there is no guarantee that it would return with a good catch, he said.

As many as 18 families (directly and indirectly) depend on revenue generated by operating one boat, according to an estimate.

As manual boats are also not being operated, fish supplies to markets are expected in a month's time, some fishermen said, even as their plight looked pathetic. 

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