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Cyclone Hudhud impact: Andhra govt begins relief operations, Vizag reels under soaring prices

Boats and shipping vessels washed ashore at the outer harbour in Visakhapatnam due to Cyclone Hudhud

A day after Cyclone Hudhud devastated Visakhapatnam and other nearby districts, the state government on Monday embarked on the gigantic task of restoring normalcy in the battered port city and providing access to affected villages.

Under the impact of Hudhud, that unleashed gusty winds and heavy rains, the picturesque port city of Visakhapatnam looked like a war-ravaged zone with uprooted trees, knocked down cell towers, transformers and telephone poles seen at several places.

The Visakhapatnam airport also bore the brunt of the cyclone fury with the roof over a portion being blown away due to the gales.

Communication systems and electricity broke down in the city since Saturday night and people at many places depended on the radio to know the cyclone updates.

The residents of the port city, who were confined to their homes, ventured out today with dry weather prevailing after Hudhud weakened into a deep depression over south Chhattisgarh and its neighbourhood, as per the IMD bulletin issued this morning.

Long queues were witnessed at petrol pumps and the residents sought to buy essential food items like milk.

The government has begun efforts to remove the debris and to restore normalcy in Visakhapatnam.

With many retailers allegedly jacking up the prices of essential commodities to cash in on the tragedy. Prices of petrol, vegetables and milk have doubled overnight in the city.

Besides Visakhapatnam, the other north coastal districts like Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and East Godavari have also suffered widespread damage.

According to the disaster management department of the state government, five persons, including a one-year-old baby, were killed in different rain-related incidents in the districts of Visakhapatnam, Srikakulam and Vizianagaram.

As many as five lakh people are being provided shelter in relief camps, Parakala Prabhakar, Advisor (Communications) to the AP government, told reporters in Hyderabad.

Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, who has decided to camp in Visakhapatnam to oversee the relief operations, said in Rajahmundry that the government's priority is to restore access to all the affected villages, establishing communication networks and taking care of those provided shelter.

Naidu also undertook an aerial survey of the affected areas today.

The Chief Minister instructed the officials to prepare over five lakhs food packets for distribution in cyclone-affected East Godavari, West Godavari, Vizinagaram, Srikakulam and Visakhapatnam districts.

"The work for preparation of food packets has already commenced. The packets will be dispatched shortly to Visakhapatnam through special choppers," Naidu told reporters in Rajahmundry.

He said 500 nodal officers has been appointed to assess the damage caused in each district.

He also instructed the five district Collectors to prepare a comprehensive plan on damages and submit it to the government to know the extent of devastation.

Each cyclone-affected family will get 25 kg of rice and five litres of kerosene, he said.

As many as five lakh people are being provided shelter in relief camps, Parakala Prabhakar, Advisor (Communications) to the AP government, told reporters in Hyderabad.

The state government has appointed five teams of senior IAS officials to supervise the relief operations and to restore communication and other systems.

Naidu, who got a phone call from Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh while addressing a press conference, urged him to visit the affected places on Tuesday.

The Chief Minister had yesterday asked the Centre to provide financial assistance of Rs 2,000 crores and to declare the tragedy as a national calamity.

Prabhakar said the state Chief Secretary would speak to different telecom service providers to restore their networks as early as possible.

BSNL landline phones are, however, functioning in Visakhapatnam.

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