Though Cyclone Thane is likely to spare the southern coast of Andhra Pradesh and hit somewhere between Chennai and Nagapattinam in Tamil Nadu, the Andhra Pradesh government is not taking any chances.
The state government has put the administration on full alert in the coastal region.
District collectors of Nellore, Prakasham and Chittoor have been asked to be on high alert as the cyclonic storm is likely to cause heavy to very heavy rains and gale winds up to 130 kms per hour when it crosses the coast.
According to the Cyclone warning Centre, Visakhapatanam, the cyclone was centered 300 kms south east of Chennai on Thursday evening and was likely to cross the coast either later tonight or on Friday morning.
The Andhra Pradesh government has asked people in low-lying areas to start moving to cyclone shelters and other safe places. Officials of the medical, health and civil supplies department have been asked to store essential commodities and medicines at different places.
Commissioner of Disaster Management T Radha said that three helicopters of the Indian Navy have been kept on standby for relief and rescue operations. As many as 72 fishermen have been brought back to safety and search was going on for 8 others.
The government has urged people to stay indoors as the storm will be powerful enough to uproot trees and electricity poles.
Danger signal number three was hoisted on all major ports along the Andhra coast.
State Revenue Minister N Raghuveera Reddy and Chief Secretary Pankaj Dwedi reviewed the situation with other senior officials.
The administration has also started evacuating people from low-lying areas along the coast as huge tidal waves have started lashing the region.
As Chittoor district in Rayal Seema was likely to be affected by the impact of the storm, the pilgrims coming to Tirumala have been requested to postpone their tour programme.
Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy, who is in Delhi, is keeping himself updated on the situation. He spoke to Chief Secretary Pankag Dwedi over the phone and asked him to ensure that the administration was on full alert.
With inputs from PTI