Update (5.00 PM): The death toll due to Cyclone Fani has risen to three and winds, rains have started to lash at Kolkata. The storm is expected to move to West Bengal in the next 24 hours.
Shocking visuals emerged from Bhubaneshwar, where the intense storm caused a high rise crane to hit an under construction building and eventually crash to the ground.
The worse though might be over for the city as residents have reported a dissipation in the storm’s intensity.
To help contain the damage and destruction along the Indian coasts, the Indian Coast Guard has swung into action to manage relief works.
Update (2.00 PM): Cyclone Fani hit the Puri coast in Odisha on Friday morning around 8 am, with heavy rain and strong winds lashing Odisha and parts of Andhra Pradesh. A wind speed of 145 km per hour was recorded, according to the India Meteorology Department (IMD).
Gale wind speed reaching 140-150 kmph gusting to 165 kmph is prevailing along and off Puri and Jagatsighpur districts of the Odisha coast. It is very likely to increase during the next six hours.
Storm surge of about 1.5 metre height above astronomical tide likely to inundate the low-lying areas of Ganjam, Khurda, Puri and Jagatsinghpur districts of Odisha. The situation is likely to continue till afternoon.
Heavy rainfall has also been reported in Kolkata and the Gangetic West Bengal with Cyclone Fani hitting the Odisha coast on Friday morning.
To tackle any emergency situation, six National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams have been deployed at Sankrail in Jhargram district, Narayangarh Block in west Medinipur, Ramnagar in East Medinipur, Kakdwip in South 24 Parganas, and Dhamakhali and Hasnabad in North 24 Parganas district.
The Kolkata Municipal Corporation has formed a team along with police and disaster management departments to monitor the measures being initiated.
At 11.30 am, IMD said, Fani weakened into “very severe cyclonic storm” about 10 km east of Bhubaneswar and 30 km south of Cuttack. The weather department also said Fani would move “North + North-Eastwards” and weaken into “severe cyclonic storm” in the next six hours.
Update (1.00 PM): The Indian Navy would conduct aerial surveys in the afternoon to assess the cyclone’s impact and ensuing damage using its P8I and Dornier aircraft. Various wildlife. Affected people have been moved to shelters across the states were they are supplied with essentials.
Update (11.30 AM): Andhra Pradesh is also reeling under Fani’s pressure with people being forced to take refuge in a shelter in Ichchapuram town of Srikakulam district. According to reports, some houses were damaged in the rain and wind. Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted that the cyclone’s influence will be prevalent in Srikakulam for next 12 hours.
Update (11 AM): According to an ANI report, wind speeds in Puri have reached a maximum of 240-245 km per hour. Heavy to very heavy rains continue to pour along the Odisha coast. However, it is predicted that after Fani’s landfall, the impact is likely to reduce and the cyclone is likely to move towards West Bengal coast.
The landfall began about three hours ago and cities like Puri are witnessing heavy storm.
Most Severe Cyclone Since 1999
With Cyclone Fani remaining on course, the weather department has forecast that extremely severe cyclonic storm will hit coastal Odisha near Puri between 8 and 10 am today, much ahead of the previously forecasted time of landfall.
Fani is the most severe cyclonic storm since the super cyclone of 1999 that claimed close to 10,000 lives and left a trail of destruction in vast swathes of the state, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Centre (JWTC).
Over 11.5 lakh people in vulnerable, low lying areas of 13 districts in the state are being shifted to cyclone shelters and other safe houses, in arguably the largest evacuation ever before an impending natural calamity. Nearly 3.5 lakh people have already been evacuated to safety, official sources said.
The cyclone is likely to hit at least 14 Odisha districts - Puri, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Balasore, Bhadrak, Ganjam, Khurda, Jajpur, Nayagarh, Cuttack, Gajapati, Mayurbhanj, Dhenkanal and Keonjhar. After making the landfall at Puri, the cyclone is predicted to move towards West Bengal before weakening and tapering off
While the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) in its latest model predict landfall of ‘Fani’ in between Chilika and Puri in the early morning hours of today (Friday), the Joint Typhoon Warning Centre (JTWC) has also pointed out the same range of places as point of landfall and hinted the landfall time as before 8 AM on today (Friday).
Incessant rain has been lashing various parts of the state on Thursday.
Initially, the landfall forecast of cyclone was predicted for the evening of Friday at around 5.30 pm. This was later advanced with forecast that the cyclone will make a landfall between 10 and 12 noon and the latest was advanced by another two hours – 8 and 10 am.
The state government and disaster mitigation agencies NDRF and ODRF, besides fire services are on the job as relief and rescue operations are in full operational mode. Personnel of NDRF, ODRAF and fire service have been deployed in vulnerable areas to assist the administration.
All flights to and from Bhubaneswar have been cancelled for 24 hours starting May 3 midnight in view of the Cyclone Fani threat over the Bay of Bengal. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation said issued an advance order to cancel all flights to and from Kolkata between 9.30 pm on May 3 and 6 pm on May 4 to ensure safety of operations during the cyclone.
“All airlines and operators are informed that due to approaching severe cyclonic storm Fani, flights to and from Biju Patnaik International Airport in Bhubaneswar will be cancelled between 12 a.m. on May 3 to 11.59 p.m. on May 4. Flights from Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata will be cancelled between 9.30 p.m. on May 3 to 6 p.m. on May 4,” the DGCA said in a tweet.
“Resumption of the flight will be with positive clearance from respective air traffic control,” it added.
It also issued an advance order to cancel all flights to and from Kolkata between 9.30 pm on May 3 and 6 pm on May 4.
In New Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviewed the preparedness to tackle the situation that might obtain once the cyclone makes the landfall.
The meeting was attended by the Cabinet Secretary, the Principal Secretary to the PM, the Additional Principal Secretary to the PM, the Home Secretary, and other senior officials from the IMD, NDRF, NDMA and PMO.
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