1 million people evacuated as cyclone hits: India

Storm makes landfall in eastern state of Odisha; large areas in temple town of Puri and other places submerged.
CHANDIGARH, India: Cyclone Fani, a severe cyclonic storm, made landfall impact on Friday morning in India’s Odisha state, where more than one million people were evacuated ahead of the impact.

“The extremely severe cyclonic storm ‘Fani’ lay centered at 0930 hours IST [Indian Standard Time, 0400GMT] of today, 03rd May, 2019 near lat. 19.80n and long. 85.70e over Odisha coast close to Puri. Latest observation indicates that the eye of the system has completely moved into land by 1000 hours IST of today,” state meteorologists said on Twitter.

The cyclone crossed the Odisha coast close to the Hindu holy town of Puri, a major tourist destination, at 8.00-10.00 a.m. local time.

According to state meteorologists, the storm is very likely to move north-northeastwards and weaken into a very severe cyclonic storm with wind speeds of 90-100 kilometers per hour gusting to 115 kph by Saturday morning. From there it is likely to hit West Bengal and Bangladesh with reduced winds of 60-70 kph gusting to 80 kph.

Meteorologists said the landfall process has started and will continue for the next three hours. The process of the eye entering into land will be completed over the next two hours.

Local media reported that the cyclone hit the coast on Friday morning and has started making its impact felt. “Large areas in the temple town of Puri and other places were submerged as heavy rain battered the coast,” local broadcaster NDTV said on Friday.

Local authorities are on high alert with disaster teams deployed to several locations as 14 districts are expected to be impacted.

Prabhat Ranjan Mohapatra, a senior officer at Odisha’s Special Relief Commissioner’s Office, told Anadolu Agency that more than one million residents had been moved to safer locations in the state.

Officials said that by using a location-based alert system, more than 10 million text messages were sent to people in different zones of vulnerability, urging them to take precautions and move to shelters.

According to Philip Klotzbach from Colorado State University, Fani is the strongest cyclone this early in the year in the North Indian Ocean since Cyclone Nargis in 2008.

Bangladesh district receives floods

Heavy rains caused floods in at least 25 villages on the coast of Bangladesh as Cyclone Fani is likely to hit the country on Friday midnight.

Also, more than 400,000 people were moved to cyclone shelters on Friday morning from the coastal districts vulnerable to the effects of the storm, Disaster Management and Relief Secretary Md Shah Kamal told reporters.

The number of affected people could swell to 2.5 million, he added.

All vessels have been asked not to venture into the sea until further notice.

River transport operation across Bangladesh has also been suspended.–AA

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