Bhubaneswar, Packing gusts of 195 kmph, cyclone ‘Fani’ swept into the east coast at 0800 hrs, wreaking havoc in many parts of Odisha where 11 lakh people had been evacuated as a precaution.
Heavy rain and high velocity winds uprooted trees, swept away thatched huts and snapped power supply in the state. ‘Fani’ was the strongest storm to hit India since 2014, India Meteorological Department said.
The extremely severe cyclonic storm, which weakened to a severe storm, left a trail of destruction in Ganjam, Puri, Khurda and Gajapati districts.The roof of Bhubaneswar Railway station was blown away. The top of recently renovated Kalinga cricket stadium was also damaged. Though the wind speed is slowly decreasing in Khurda area, rains are likely to continue.
Waterlogging was witnessed in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack, while communication in Puri had totally broken down. Bhubaneswar Railway Station and Biju Patnaik International Airport have been also damaged.
The area along Puri is witnessing strong winds. Large areas in Puri and other places were submerged under water as heavy rains battered the entire coastal belt of the state. Several trees were uprooted and thatched structures destroyed at some places, including Bhubaneswar.Road communication was disrupted at many places and power connection snapped.
All flights from Bhubaneswar have been cancelled from midnight, Kolkata airport will be shut between 3 pm on Friday and till 8 am on Saturday.
Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu has said that all airlines must immediately respond to the concerns of passengers affected by the cyclone. In a tweet, Mr Prabhu said, Control room and helplines manned at all times will assist affected passengers.A total of 140 trains, including 83 passenger, had been cancelled so far.
Heavy rains still continued in many parts of coastal Odisha. Puri, Khurda, Bhubaneswar and Jagatsinghpur districts in Odisha witnessed extremely heavy rainfall.
Most places in Odisha were expected to receive light to moderate rains on Saturday with heavy to very heavy rainfall occurring at isolated places in Balasore and Mayurbhanj districts, the Met office said.
The system is likely to continue to move north-northeastwards, weaken gradually and emerge into Gangetic West Bengal as a severe cyclonic storm with wind speed of 90-100 kmph by early Saturday morning.
It was very likely to move further north-northeastwards and emerge in Bangladesh on Saturday evening as a cyclonic storm with wind speed 60-70 kmph gusting to 80 kmph, according to an IMD bulletin.‘Fani’ was being tracked by Doppler weather Radars at Gopalpur and Paradip, the bulletin said.
Odisha government had evacuated nearly 11 lakh people from vulnerable and low-lying areas of the coastal districts. They have been accommodated in over 4,000 shelters, including 880 specially designed cyclone centres. Schools have been closed and people requested to move to safer places.
Indian Coast Guard had positioned 34 disaster relief teams at different spots and deployed four ships to handle any exigency. Army and Air Force units are also on standby.
Indian Oil Corporation has made arrangements to ensure uninterrupted supply of petrol, diesel, LPG and jet fuel in Odisha and West Bengal that faced a category-4 cyclone. In a statement, the company said, IOC is fully geared to ensure uninterrupted fuel supply from its locations in Odisha and West Bengal on the east coast.
Ministry of Home Affairs also launched a new Helpline number 1938.
Addressing an election rally at Hindaun in Rajasthan on Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the government was in continuous touch with Odisha, Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Union Territory of Puducherry and had released more than Rs 1,000 crore for rescue and relief operations. Mr Modi said that National Disaster Response Force, Coast Guard, Indian army and Navy personnel have been deployed in the affected areas.