People gather at a beach in Puri Thursday as Cyclone Fani approaches the Indian coastline. (PTI)
People gather at a beach in Puri Thursday as Cyclone Fani approaches the Indian coastline. (PTI)

Odisha braces for Cyclone Fani, over 1 million people evacuated

  • Modi reviews precautionary measures as cyclone is expected to make landfall in Puri on Friday morning
  • IMD says Cyclone Fani will, after making landfall in Puri district, cross the Odisha coast between Gopalpur and Chandbali Friday afternoon with maximum sustained wind speed of 170-180kmph and gusting to 200kmph

NEW DELHI : India is evacuating about a million people to safer places as the country’s worst cyclone in more than five years is set to make landfall in Odisha on Friday morning, raising fears of widespread devastation.

Odisha along with West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh joined hands with the central government to prepare rescue and relief steps ahead of Cyclone Fani’s expected landfall in Odisha’s Puri district.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi met top Union government authorities from emergency services in New Delhi to review preparedness for the “extremely severe cyclonic storm" and asked paramilitary forces to prepare for any eventuality.

A satellite image issued by IMD shows the movement of the cyclone on the Bay of Bengal.
A satellite image issued by IMD shows the movement of the cyclone on the Bay of Bengal. (PTI)


The Odisha government Thursday said it is evacuating some 800,000 people from about a dozen coastal districts. However, the Union home ministry said that the state government had informed it that a total of 1.15 million people are being moved to safer areas. About 10,000 villages and 52 towns in Odisha will be affected by the cyclone, the ministry said.

During the review meeting held earlier in the day, PM Modi was “briefed on the likely path of the cyclone, and the ongoing precautionary and preparatory measures being undertaken. These include provision of adequate resources; deployment of teams from National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) and the Armed Forces, arrangements to provide drinking water, and standby systems to restore power and telecom services," according to Union government statement.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD), which has been tracking the storm’s path since it was formed over the Indian Ocean and south-east Bay of Bengal last week, said Cyclone Fani will, after making landfall in Puri district, cross the Odisha coast between Gopalpur and Chandbali Friday afternoon with maximum sustained wind speed of 170-180kmph and gusting to 200kmph.

The tropical cyclone is likely to have maximum impact in districts including Ganjam, Gajapati, Khurda, Puri, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapada, Bhadrak, Jajpur and Balasore in Odisha. In West Bengal, districts of East and West Medinipur, South and North 24 Parganas, Howrah, Hooghly, Jhargram and Kolkata, and in Andhra districts like Srikakulam, Vijayanagram and Visakhapatnam districts are likely to be affected.

While over 110 trains are either cancelled or re-routed on 3 May and 4 due to the cyclone, dozens of flights have been cancelled.

The Paradip and Gopalpur ports in Odisha have also suspended operations.

The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) said it has positioned 54 relief and rescue teams along the east coast and in flood-prone areas of Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Jharkhand, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

Odisha special relief commissioner Bishnupada Sethi Thursday said the state is making the “best possible effort" to inform and evacuate people. He said besides 28 NDRF teams, Odisha has deployed 20 state disaster response teams in coastal areas. He asserted that the state is ready to face the cyclone, which he said is likely to make landfall between 8am and 10am on Friday.

Andhra Pradesh said parts of Visakhapatnam and Srikakulam districts are witnessing heavy rains and have been put on high alert. Fishermen have also been advised to stay away from the sea in view of the approaching storm.

neetu.s@livemint.com

Yunus Lasania from Hyderabad contributed to this story.


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