Visakhapatnam: Heavy rains accompanied by squally winds were lashing parts of coastal Andhra Pradesh on Monday as the severe cyclonic storm 'Phethai' is set to hit the coast near Kakinada later in the day, officials said.

Incessant rains were lashing East Godavari, West Godavari, Krishna and Guntur districts since Sunday night under the impact of 'Phethai' in Bay of Bengal. Squally winds have uprooted trees and electricity poles in some places.

Electricity supply to Kakinada town and several other parts of East Godavari district was snapped. The meteorologists have asked people to remain indoors during the landfall of the storm.

Authorities have sounded red alert in seven out of nine coastal districts and opened over 300 relief camps to provide shelter to people evacuated from coastal villages and low-lying areas.

A holiday was declared for all educational institutions in the coastal district. Authorities have also suspended long-distance bus services and cancelled several trains as a precautionary measure.

Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu reviewed the situation with district collectors through vide-conference from Amaravati. He directed them to treat this as an emergency situation and gear up the district administration to prevent loss of life.

Naidu asked officials to keep the helicopters on standby for rescue and relief operations.

Teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) were already deployed in the districts likely to be impacted by the cyclone.

According to the Met Department, 'Phethai' lay centred at 160 km southeast of Machilipatnam Aand 190 km south of Kakinada early Monday.

"It is very likely to move northwards and cross Andhra Pradesh coast around Kakinada during 17th December afternoon. However, due to unfavourable environmental conditions, it is likely to weaken before landfall and cross coast as a cyclonic storm with a wind speed of 70-90 kmph gusting to 100 kmph," it said.

The IMD has forecast rainfall at most places with heavy to very heavy falls at a few places over coastal Andhra Pradesh and extremely heavy falls at isolated places over north coastal Andhra Pradesh and Yanam district of Puducherry, which is an enclave in East Godavari district.

The Met office warned that storm surge of height of about 0.5 to 1.0 metres above the astronomical tides may inundate the low lying areas of East Godavari, West Godavari, Vishakhapatnam and Krishna districts and Yanam district of Puducherry at the time of landfall.

Fishermen were advised not to venture into the sea and those already out in deep sea were advised to return to the coast.(IANS)

Also Read: AP Coastal Regional On High Alert For Pethai Cyclone