At least three persons died on Saturday after uprooted trees fells on them in Odisha ahead of Cyclone Phailin's landfall at Gopalpur.
While a 35-year-old man of Garama village in Jagatsinghpur district died after a tree fell on him amidst gusty winds, a 42-year-old woman also met the same fate in Bhubaneswar.
A man also succumbed to injuries after a tree fell on him at Khalikote area in Ganjam district, police said, adding the deceased was yet to be identified.
"Eighteen fishermen were reported trapped around 4km from Paradip in the sea on a fishing trawler. Though they contacted the Coast Guard, rescue operations could not be conducted, as the sea is extremely rough. We have contacted the authorities of IOC and have sought help from their rescue team," said state revenue and disaster minister S N Patro.
Revenue Divisional Commissioner (Central Division) Arvind Padhee has been asked to coordinate rescue operations of these trapped fishermen and "we have asked the police to trace the owner of the trawler and arrest him," Patro said.
More than 3.61 lakh people have already been evacuated from the six coastal districts of Odisha. 1.2 lakh people have been shifted from the coastal belt of Ganjam and Gopalpur areas, Mohapatra said. Reports from Puri said that sea water gushed into Tandaghar and Keutajanga villages of Astarang and Brahmagiri blocks in the district last evening, even as the administration shifted people to safer places.
Though the district administration evacuated around 45,000 people from the coast to safe places, a large number of fishermen, who were shifted from Chandrabhaga and Konark, returned. "It was a major cause of concern for us," an official engaged in evacuation operation said.
Although roads leading to the 12th century Jagannath Temple wore a deserted look, all the intricate rituals were continuing and the temple administration said darshan of the deities was on.
The Puri district administration had vacated about 400 hotels in the city and the pilgrims were advised to move to Bhubaneswar or other places. Passenger buses and trains originating from Puri were ferrying hundreds of tourists in anticipation of the cyclone.
A report from Paradip said the port town was experiencing heavy rains accompanied by windspeed and high tides were lashing the coast.
Production in the industries including PPT, PPL, IIFCO had been stopped and many workers fled the place out of fear during the last two days, anticipating that the port town might be battered by the imminent cyclone, sources said.
Cyclonic storm Phailin is currently positioned just 180 km off the coast of Gopalpur in Odisha, which is likely to be epicentre of the storm. With a wind speed of 210-220 kmph, the tides could rise up to 3.5 meters and seawater could enter 300-600 meters in land, the IMD said.