‘Fani’ worst cyclone to hit Odisha in 20 years

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NEW DELHI: Six people have been killed as cyclone ‘Fani’ made a landfall in Puri in Odisha around 8 am, on May 3, 2019, triggering heavy rainfall coupled with high velocity winds with speed of 175 kmph in vast areas. Coastline areas in Puri were submerged under water and adjoining places witnessed critical damage due to heavy rains. In some places including Bhubaneswar, many trees were uprooted and slumped. After crossing Odisha, the cyclone is likely to move towards West Bengal.

The cyclone made landfall in the morning on May 3, 2019, at Puri. The strong winds also influenced Bhubaneswar city. Almost a million people are being evacuated and moved to safer locations as ‘extremely severe’ cyclone picks up speed.

During a top level meeting held by Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, on May 2, to assess the preparations for cyclone, the union home ministry said that around 10,000 villages and 52 towns in Odisha are expected to fall in path of the cyclone, which could witness winds gusting up to 225 kmph. 

Since the 1999 super cyclone, this will be the first time that the state will suffer the brunt of another severe storm. The previous super cyclone killed nearly 10,000 people and damaged the state with wind speeds recorded as 270-300 kmph.

In view of the cyclonic storm, the Odisha administration has removed more than 11 lakh people from most-vulnerable districts since May 2, 2019. More than 3 lakh people have been evacuated from Ganjam district alone, followed by 1.3 lakh people from Puri district where there is a possibility of landslides. About 5000 kitchens are working to serve the people moved to shelters. Centre has assured all possible help to the state governments affected by the cyclone. 

The meteorological department has warned of “total destruction” of thatched huts and kutcha houses, major damage to roads and crops, the uprooting of power poles and potential danger from flying objects. 

Kolkata, Bhabaneswar airports have been closed and more than 200 trains have been cancelled. All educational institutions, commercial establishments, shops and offices will remain closed on May 3, 2019, morning while the movement of vehicles has been restricted. 

The government has created 4,852 cyclones and flood shelters, where evacuees have been moved and provided with food. 604 women, who are at the stages of pregnancy, have been shifted to maternal care centres. There are 302 rapid response teams formed by health departments. 28 units of NDRF, 20 units of Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF) and 525 fire personnel have been kept ready for the rescue operation.  Sahyadri, Ranvir and Kadmatt three Navy ships have been kept ready with relief material and medical teams. Aircraft and helicopters have been kept on standby for immediate deployment to carry out an aerial survey, aid in the rescue operation and for air-dropping relief material as and when required. More than 300 boats are also ready to be engaged in the rescue and relief work to deal with the flood situation which could follow the cyclone. 

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