1m shifted as India’s Worst Cyclone in 20 year’s hits Today
Bhubaneswar: More than a million people are being moved to safety as a tense Odisha battens down the hatches to take on the might of the “extremely severe” cyclone Fani, which is set to make landfall near Puri between 8am and 10am on Friday. An estimated 10,000 villages and 52 towns in Odisha will come in the path of the cyclone, which could see winds gusting up to 225 kmph, the Union home ministry said after PM Narendra Modi held a top-level meeting on Thursday to assess preparations for the cyclone. This could be the first time since the 1999 Super Cyclone that the state would bear the brunt of such a severe storm. The 1999 cyclone killed nearly 10,000 people and battered the state with winds of 270-300 kmph. Cyclone Fani is expected to remain “extremely severe” for four to six hours after landfall, IMD officials said in New Delhi. It will then gradually weaken.
The meteorological department 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 as the storm moves north-northeastwards after landfall and sweeps through Khurda, Cuttack, Jajpur, Bhadrak and Balasore districts before moving to neighbouring West Bengal and then to Bangladesh. In a massive operation, around 8 lakh people were evacuated from low-lying areas by 7pm on Thursday and more were being shifted to the safety of storm shelters in coastal areas. Rail, road and air traffic have been completely suspended in the coastal districts. All flight operations at the Biju Patnaik International Airport will be suspended for 24 hours from Thursday midnight. Kolkata airport, too, will remain shut Friday night till 6pm on Saturday. Operations at Paradip, Gopalpur and Dhamra ports have been closed. The Election Commission of India has, meanwhile, lifted the model code of conduct from 11 districts to facilitate rescue and relief measures. It has also approved shifting of polled EVMs of four assembly constituencies in Gajapati and Jagatsinghpur districts to safer places.
Odisha to shut down as Cyclone Fani closes in
Odisha: Around 8 lakh people were evacuated from low-lying areas by 7pm on Thursday and more are being shifted to the safety of storm shelters in coastal areas. Rail, road and air traffic have been completely suspended in coastal districts. Flight operations at the Biju Patnaik International Airport have been suspended for 24 hours from Thursday midnight while more than 200 trains have been cancelled. Operations at Paradip, Gopalpur and Dhamra ports have been closed since Thursday. The Election Commission of India has, meanwhile, lifted the model code of conduct from 11 districts to facilitate rescue and relief measures. It has also approved shifting of polled EVMs of four assembly constituencies in Gajapati and Jagatsinghpur districts to safer places.
Apart from the massive evacuation operations for cyclone Fani, the state government has appealed to the public to remain indoors on Friday morning and not to come out till the storm passes over. All educational institutions, commercial establishments, shops and offices will remain closed on Friday morning while movement of vehicles has been restricted. “The state government is fully prepared to tackle the cyclone. Each life is precious for us,” chief minister Naveen Patnaik said, appealing to the people not to panic. According to the India Meteorology Department (IMD) forecast at 5.30pm on Thursday, the cyclone lay centred at about 275 km southwest of Puri.
Disaster management units take guard to counter the fury of Cyclone Fani
Kolkata: The National Disaster Response Force, the Coast Guard Regional Headquarters (NE) and the Disaster Management Group of the Kolkata Police have taken necessary preparations throughout Thursday to face the wrath of cyclone Fani. Rajan Bargotra, IG, Coast Guard (Region NE) attended a meeting at Nabanna and briefed other agencies about a slew of measures being taken up to keep the ill effects of the cyclone at bay. The National Disaster Response Force has deployed several teams in the city and all districts of the state to deal with the aftermath of the cyclone in next few days. One team has been kept on standby at the Response Centre in Kaikhali for the city. Three teams have been stationed in Siliguri, while one team has been pressed into service at Pakyong in Sikkim. “One team comprises almost 40 personnel, including engineers, medical team, radio operators, life guards, a team with life boats, swimmers and demolition squad. From Sunday, our teams were being deployed in the districts where they are making the locals aware of how they would remain safe during the natural calamity,” said Abhay Kumar Singh, officiating commandant of NDRF in the state. The NDRF has dispatched two teams to Kakdwip and Sandeshkhali in South 24 Parganas, which had been worst affected during Aila in 2009.
One team each has been sent to North 24 Parganas, East Midnapore, West Midnapore and Jhargram. The Coast Guard Regional Headquarters (NE) has already taken a slew of measures to ensure the safety of fishermen as Fani approaches the coastlines of Odisha and West Bengal. Over the last few days, Coast Guard vessels and Dorniers were used to alert fishermen at sea and get them back to harbour. Coast Guard vessels and personnel will be put on standby for search and rescue operations during and after the cyclone. The disaster management group of Kolkata Police has also been kept ready and all personnel have been instructed to be on duty. “This unit is crucial because they are in the forefront of rescuing people, removing trees that may have fallen and remove debris to clear the path,” said a police officer supervising the preparations of the DMG. Meanwhile, Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) has announced the temporary suspension of operations till the dispersal of the cyclone. The port has issued a general alert, directing all the ships at Kolkata and Haldia to take precautionary measures. Operational craft of the port and five Coast Guard vessels are also being provided safe berthing inside the docks.