Port Blair: People living in coastal areas of Andaman and Nicobar Islands were evacuated to safety as the archipelago experienced heavy rain and strong winds due to Cyclone Asani on Sunday, officials said.
Inter-island shipping services and those with Chennai and Visakhapatnam have been stopped and fishermen warned not to venture into the sea as the year's first cyclonic storm neared the archipelago, they said.
Around 150 personnel of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have been deployed and six relief camps opened in various parts of the islands, the officials said.
"I urge people not to panic as the administration is taking all measures to ensure their safety. A total of 68 NDRF personnel have been deployed in Port Blair, and 25 each in Diglipur, Rangat and Hutbay areas," Disaster Management Secretary Pankaj Kumar said.
North and Middle Andaman and South Andaman districts, including Port Blair, are experiencing heavy rain and strong winds, the official said.
North and Middle Andaman district Deputy Commission Anjali Sehrawat said that people living in coastal areas are being evacuated to safe places by NDRF personnel.
"Depression over southeast Bay of Bengal and adjoining south Andaman Sea lay centered at 0830 hrs IST of today, about 110 km north-northwest of Car Nicobar (Nicobar Islands). To intensify into a DD by 0530 hrs IST of 21st and into a cyclonic storm by 0530 hrs IST of 21st," the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said in a Twitter post on Sunday.
The system is expected to move towards the Bangladesh-Myanmar coasts.
Directorate of Shipping Services ordered the cancellation of all inter-island services till March 22. MV Campbell ship from Visakhapatnam and Chennai-bound MV Sindhu were also cancelled.
Schools and colleges have been shut because of the cyclone.