Cyclone Fani to strike Odisha today, over 1 million people evacuated
As the cyclone progresses into West Bengal, it should weaken gradually into a severe cyclonic storm with winds of 90-100 kph and gusts of 115 kph before entering Bangladesh as a cyclonic storm on Saturday evening with winds of 60-70 kph.Updated: May 03, 2019, 08:03 IST
An “extremely severe” cyclonic storm that is likely to make landfall south of Puri on Friday has put Odisha on high alert and prompted authorities in West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh to take precautionary measures.
On Thursday, the Odisha government conveyed to the National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC), the country’s top body for handling emergency situations, that 10,000 villages and 52 towns in nine districts will be affected due to Cyclone Fani , a home ministry statement said after a meeting of the NCMC, which was headed by cabinet secretary PK Sinha.
Flight operations from Bhubaneswar remained suspended from Thursday midnight and from Kolkata from Friday morning, with the cyclone — packing winds gusting up to 200 kilometres per hour and torrential rains — approaching India’s eastern coast. Services will be resumed as soon the conditions improve. The railways has already suspended operations of trains in Odisha, the home ministry statement said.
As the cyclone progresses into West Bengal, it should weaken gradually into a severe cyclonic storm with winds of 90-100 kph and gusts of 115 kph before entering Bangladesh as a cyclonic storm on Saturday evening with winds of 60-70 kph.
A total of 1.1 million people in Odisha were moved to safer areas and the state has advised the public to remain indoor on Friday. Around 900 cyclone shelters have been made ready.
The storm is likely to impact Odisha’s coastal districts Ganjam, Gajapati, Khurda, Puri, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Bhadrak, Jajpur and Balasore. In West Bengal, it will affect the districts of East and West Medinipur, South- and North-24 Parganas, Howrah, Hooghly, Jhargram as well as Kolkata.
In Andhra Pradesh, the cyclone is likely to hit Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam districts.
The power ministry has made arrangements to restore supply in affected areas with least downtime. The drinking water and sanitation ministry has made arrangements to move additional water supplies in the affected areas and is keeping in readiness packaged drinking water.
The ministry of food processing industries is keeping in readiness packaged ready-to-eat food. The health ministry has mobilised emergency medical teams, medicines and also coordinated with the Red Cross to provide assistance. It has kept ready 17 public health response teams and five quick response medical teams with emergency drugs.
The department of telecommunication has issued orders to all operators to allow free SMS for cyclone-related messages and inter-operability of mobile networks by other operators. The petroleum ministry has ensured availability of sufficient petroleum and oil in the affected areas.
The Indian Coast Guard and the Indian Navy have deployed ships and helicopters for relief and rescue operations while the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force units in the three states have also been put on standby.
The ministry of shipping has disengaged all ships at Paradip Port and has deployed emergency vessels
The railways on Thursday said around 102 trains have been cancelled in the last two days, while three special trains pressed into service to ferry stranded passengers from affected areas.Four trains have been diverted, it said.
The national transporter said it will grant full refund to passengers for the cancelled or diverted trains if tickets are produced for cancellation within three days from the scheduled date of journey. The railways had announced cancellation of 81 trains on Wednesday. So far, the railways has announced three tourist special trains to ferry passengers from affected areas.
The national transporter has also instructed that sufficient amount of cash be made available at major stations for granting refunds to passengers and meeting other exigencies. Frontline staff are to be advised to be extremely polite while dealing with passengers and leaving no scope for complaint, it added.
“Emergency control is to be operated round the clock with helpline numbers for guiding passengers. No staff are to be allowed to go on leave for the next three days,” the railways said.
In West Bengal capital Kolkata, authorities directed advertisers to take down all hoardings in the city. Hotel owners in tourist spots along the Bengal coastline such as Digha, Mandarmani, Tajpur and Shankarpur fear a loss of business. Digha, West Bengal’s most popular beach resort, is about 342km east of Puri, and close to the Odisha border.
“There are about 650 hotels in the area that attracts average footfalls of about 0.2 million people every day. Even if you consider them spending Rs 600 per head a day, the direct loss of business is at least Rs 12 crore a day,” said Bipradas Chakrabarti, secretary of the Digha Shankarpur Hoteliers Association.