ODISHA, INDIA: Heavy rains along with a wind speed of 175 kmph battered Odisha as powerful cyclone Fani made landfall close to the temple town of Puri on Friday morning, leaving a trail of destruction in the state.
The impact of the “extremely severe cyclonic storm” was felt in neighbouring West Bengal including in the beach town of Digha and other areas.
The cyclone, which crossed Odisha coast close to Puri coast between 8 a.m and 10 a.m. with a maximum wind speed of around 175 Kmph, caused “huge damage” in Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Puri and Khordha districts in the state.
“There is extensive damage to dwelling houses. Almost all kutcha and old pucca have been fully or severely damaged,” an Odisha government statement said.
It said power supply snapped due to the uprooting of electricity poles, damage to substations and KV lines. “Power restoration process is in full swing,” the release said. Uprooted trees and electricity poles blocked roads preventing vehicular movement.
The cyclone caused damage to telecom towers resulting in failure of cellular and land-line telephone networks in several areas including capital Bhubaneswar. “All telephone and cell phones are down in Puri district,” it said.
Large-scale devastation has also been caused to summer crops, orchards and plantations, it added.
The storm caused extensive damage to AIIMS Bhubaneswar with several overhead water tanks and a part of the roof getting blown away. Union Health Secretary Preeti Sudan said.
Strong winds uprooted several electricity poles on the campus. However, all patients, staff and students are safe. “We have enough supply and are ready to support the state,” Sudan said.
Massive waves along the Bay of Bengal coast in the state inundated low-lying areas in Ganjam. Khordha, Puri and Jagatsinghpur districts.
The office of Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik posted on Twitter that over 11 lakh people from the vulnerable regions have been evacuated since Thursday. Over 3 lakh people were evacuated from Ganjam district alone, followed by 1.3 lakh from Puri district. Around 5000 kitchens are operating to serve people in shelters.
A 60-year-old reportedly died in a shelter home in Kendrapara following a heart attack.
The cyclone weakened into a “very severe cyclonic storm” after landfall along the Odisha coast.
“Everything is flying in Air ..have literally turned deaf because of wind sound ..All window panes were broken..difficult indeed ..if this is my condition in a concrete building ..I pray for the lives of millions,” tweeted BJP leader Sambit Patra who is contesting the Lok Sabha election from Puri.
“The process of landfall of #CycloneFani has begun ..extremely high wind speed ..heavy rain ..the harrowing sound ..reminds me of 1999 Supercyclone With folded hands I pray to Lord Almighty Jaganath ji to give us the strength to endure this,” he said.
Civilian air services have been suspended from airports in Odisha and Kolkata while nearly 160 trains cancelled.
Indian Navy’s P-8I and Dornier aircraft are scheduled to undertake an aerial survey to assess the extent of impact and devastation caused by the cyclone.
Indian Coast Guard has positioned 34 disaster relief teams at Visakhapatnam, Chennai, Paradip, Gopalpur, Haldia, Frazergunj and Kolkata besides four ships at Visakhapatnam and Chennai.
Helpline number – 1938 – has been made operational by Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday took to Twitter, saying that she has cancelled all her election rallies till May 5 in her state.
As Fani continues to move north-northeast, it is likely to further weaken into a “severe cyclonic storm”. The system is expected to weaken gradually and emerge into Gangetic West Bengal as a “severe cyclonic storm” by the early morning of May 4, the MeT department said. Thereafter, it is expected to move further north-northeastwards and emerge into Bangladesh by May 4 evening as a cyclonic storm.
National Disaster Response Force teams deployed in Digha, West Bengal, has evacuated nearly 150 people including children from Dattapur and Tajpur to a shelter. (ANI)
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