Cyclone Phailin Charges Ahead
OFFICIALS ordered tens of thousands of coastal villagers to flee their homes today as a massive cyclone - so large it filled nearly the entire Bay of Bengal - gathered strength and headed toward India's eastern seaboard.
Cyclone Phailin is forecast to hit the coast between Kalingapatnam in Andhra Pradesh and Paradip in Odisha late on Saturday with a maximum wind speed of 220 km per hour (135mph), the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) said in its latest bulletin.
But both London-based Tropical Storm and the US Navy's Joint Typhoon Warning Centre forecast winds reaching 315 km per hour (195 mph) on landfall, classifying Phailin as a Category 5 storm - the most powerful.
The air force sent teams to assist local disaster agencies moving people out of the path of Cyclone Phailin, expected to make landfall early on Saturday evening accompanied by a storm surge of up to three metres.
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