Odisha to Start Evacuating People As 'Extremely Severe' Cyclone Fani Set to Hit Eastern Coast
At least 19 districts of Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal are likely to be affected by Fani, which is expected to make landfall 10km north of Chandrabhaga in Puri district on Friday afternoon.
Ganjam: Fishing boats anchored at Gopalpur beach, in Ganjam, Wednesday, May 1, 2019. Cyclone 'Fani' is likely to intensify into an 'extremely severe cyclonic storm' by late night and can hit the Odisha coast by Friday afternoon, the India Meteorological Department said. (PTI Photo)
New Delhi: At least 19 districts of Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal are likely to be affected by "extremely severe" cyclonic storm Fani, which is expected to make landfall 10km north of Chandrabhaga in Puri district on Friday afternoon.
The wind speed before landfall has been estimated to be 185 kmph, with the cyclone passing through Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Bhadrak and Balasore in Odisha before reaching West Bengal. The storm is likely to impact Ganjam, Gajapati, Khurda, Puri, Jajpur and Balasore districts.
As per a bulletin put out by the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) put out on Wednesday evening, the storm is likely to move northwestwards in the next 12 hours and recurve north and northeastwards afterwards.
The Odisha government has set up 900 cyclone shelters to house the evacuees and it has requested for two helicopters to be stationed in the state for emergency food distribution. Troops of the Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard as well as 78 teams of the National Disaster response Force (NDRF) have been requisitioned for deployment as well. The IMD has conveyed to the National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) that the storm may surge about 1.5 m in height and inundate the low-lying coastal areas of Ganjam, Khurda, Puri and Jagatsinghpur in Odisha at the time of landfall.
The NCMC, which is the country's top body to handle an emergency situation, has also reviewed the preparedness for Fani.
The Navy and the Coast Guard have deployed ships and helicopters for relief-and-rescue operations, while the Army and Air Force units in the three states have also been put on standby, an official statement said.
The NDRF has deployed 12 teams in Andhra Pradesh, 28 in Odisha and six in West Bengal. Additionally, 32 teams remain on standby, equipped with boats, tree cutters, and telecom equipment. A single NDRF team consists of 45 personnel.
In a statement, the Indian Coast Guard said it has implemented the lessons learnt from Cyclone Ockhi, which hit Tamil Nadu and Kerala coasts in 2017. "Fisheries authorities, state authorities and local administration were warned April 23, 2019, onwards to take precautionary measures," it said.
To ensure that widespread precautionary measures are in place in areas likely to be affected by Fani, the ICG is closely liasioning with state administrations as well as the IMD.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has directed the administration to ensure a 100% evacuation of people from vulnerable areas. He also emphasised on an early restoration of power, water supply and road communication in the to-be affected blocks. Advisories asking fishermen not to venture into the sea have also been issued.
Odisha’s Special Relief Commissioner Bishnupada Sethi said that the state plans to evacuate 10 lakh people by Thursday evening. Dry food packets are ready to be air-dropped as well, with community kitchens to kick off from Thursday.
The Biju Patnaik University of Technology postponed all examinations from May 2-4 to May 25-28 in view of the cyclone. Bhubaneswar's Nandankanan Zoological Park will also remain closed for visitors from May 2-4 as a precautionary measure, with the Odisha High Court also shut over the coming two days.
The East Coast Railways have cancelled 81 trains and diverted two more as a precautionary measure. There will be no movement of trains in the Bhadrak-Bhubaneswar-Puri-Visakhapatnam section at the time when the cyclonic storm is scheduled to pass the Odisha coast.
The South Eastern Railway (SER) has also cancelled 43 trains scheduled to run between Howrah and Puri, and other destinations in south India over the next two days. The SER has cancelled 17 trains bound for south India and Puri. It has also decided to cancel 26 trains originating from south India, an unidentified SER official said.
The ministries of civil aviation and shipping have been advised to review their preparedness as well.
The Centre has released Rs 1,086 crore for four states as advance financial assistance to undertake preventive and relief measures.
In West Bengal, the cyclone is expected to affect the districts of East and West Medinipur, South and North 24 Parganas, Howrah, Hooghly, Jhargram and Kolkata, while Srikakulam, Vijayanagram and Visakhapatnam are in the storm's path in Andhra Pradesh.
Meanwhile, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu wrote to the Election Commission asking that the Model Code of Conduct be relaxed in East Godavari, Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram and Srikakulam.
State-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) has evacuated 480 of its employees from rigs operating in the Bay of Bengal. The company has as many as six rigs exploring and drilling for oil and gas off the Andhra coast and personnel on five of them have been evacuated to safer zones.
(With inputs from PTI)
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