Cyclone Fani batters Odisha with heavy rain and strong winds

Extremely severe cyclonic storm Fani made landfall in Puri on Odisha coast this morning, triggering heavy rainfall coupled with high velocity winds with speed of 165-175 kmph gusting to 190 kmph in vast areas

Strong winds on the outskirts of Puri in the Indian state of Odisha on Friday. Image courtesy: Associated Press
Strong winds on the outskirts of Puri in the Indian state of Odisha on Friday.
Image courtesy: Associated Press
  • One of the biggest storms to hit the Indian Ocean tears down trees, cuts off power and water amid a massive evacuation.
  • Large areas in the seaside pilgrim town of Puri and other places are submerged in water as heavy rains battered the entire coastal belt of Odisha.
  • The area along Puri is witnessing winds with a speed of 145 kilometres per hour that could reach up to 180-200 kmph, which could bring extensive damage.
  • Several trees have been uprooted and thatched structures destroyed at some places including Bhubaneswar. Nearly 11 lakh people have been evacuated from vulnerable and low-lying areas of at least 11 coastal districts.
  • The World Meteorological Organization said Cyclone Fani is equivalent to a strong category 4 hurricane with speed of 200-210 km/h and strong winds gusting at 230 km/h.
  • Mritunjay Mohapatra, in-charge of the Cyclone Warning Division of the India Meteorological Department, said the process of landfall will continue for the next three hours.
  • Flights from Kolkata and Bhubaneswar airport have been cancelled due to cyclone Fani.
  • No flights to and from Kolkata airport between 3 p.m. Friday to 8 p.m. Saturday: DGCA.
The Police have been playing a major role in evacuating people
The Police have been playing a major role in evacuating people

Cyclone Fani, one of the strongest storms to batter the Indian subcontinent in decades, made landfall near Puri, India, around 8 a.m. on Friday, lashing the coast with winds gusting at more than 120 miles per hour.

Tens of millions of people are potentially in the cyclone’s path, and more than a million were evacuated this week from coastal areas. Large sections of coastal India and Bangladesh are threatened by storm surges, and heavy rains could cause rivers to breach.

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The fast-moving storm struck the coast as the equivalent of a Category 4  hurricane. Soon after it made landfall, meteorolgists predicted it would be downgraded within hours to a ‘very severe’ storm from an ‘extremely severe’ storm.

The state of Odisha has evacuated more than a million people from the most vulnerable communities along the low-lying coast during the past 24 hours, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said on Twitter.

Close to 60km inland, high winds uprooted trees and electricity poles in the state capital, Bhubaneshwar, where authorities had ordered the airport to stay closed. Schools and colleges in Odisha were also shut.

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Hundreds of disaster management personnel were deployed in the state, and doctors and other medical staff were told to defer any leave until May 15.

“It has been raining since yesterday. There has been 160mm rainfall with winds at 110kmph since about 4 am in the morning. I have been deployed at Gopalpur and Ganjam. 3 lakhs plus were evacuated here,” said a Police officer.

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Neighbouring West Bengal also decided to close an airport at Kolkata, its state capital.

Three special trains were running however from Puri to evacuate pilgrims and tourists.

Some 3,000 shelters have been set up in schools and government buildings to accommodate more than a million people. More than 100,000 dry food packets are ready to be dropped if needed, reports said.