With cyclonic storm Phailin staring at the mainland from the sea, about 950 km from the Odisha port of Paradip, the state government on Wednesday cancelled the Dussehra holidays of its employees in 14 coastal districts and put them on disaster-management duty.

An official bulletin said the cyclonic storm is likely to be preceded by heavy rain in the next 12 hours. Distant cautionary signal No. 1 was hoisted at Paradip and Gopalpur ports, asking fishermen not to venture into the sea.