Cyclone Fani hits India's east coast; 1.2 million evacuated | Inquirer News

Cyclone Fani hits India’s east coast; 1.2 million evacuated

/ 04:35 PM May 03, 2019

NEW DELHI – Cyclone Fani made landfall on India’s eastern coast on Friday as a grade 5 storm, lashing beaches with rain and wind gusting up to 205 kilometers (127 miles) per hour.

The India Meteorological Department said the “extremely severe” cyclone in the Bay of Bengal hit the coastal state of Odisha around 8 a.m., and was forecast to weaken to a “very severe” storm as it moved north-northeast toward the Indian state of West Bengal.

 Cyclone Fani hits India's east coast; 1.2 million evacuated

Street shops are seen collapsed due to gusty winds preceding the landfall of cyclone Fani on the outskirts of Puri, in the Indian state of Odisha, Friday, May 3, 2019. Indian authorities have evacuated hundreds of thousands of people along the country’s eastern coast ahead of a cyclone moving through the Bay of Bengal. Meteorologists say Cyclone Fani was expected to make landfall on Friday with gale-force winds of up to 200 kilometers (124 miles) per hour likely starting Thursday night. It warned of “extremely heavy falls” over parts of the state of Odisha and its southern neighbor Andhra Pradesh. (AP Photo)

In Bhubaneswar, a city in Odisha famous for an 11th-century Hindu temple, palm trees whipped back and forth like mops against skies made opaque by gusts of rain.


The national highway to Puri, a popular tourist beach city, was littered with fallen trees and electricity poles, making it impassable.


A special train ran Thursday to evacuate tourists from the city.

The airport in Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal, closed from 3 p.m. Friday to Saturday morning. At least 200 trains were canceled across India.

The National Disaster Response Force dispatched 54 rescue and relief teams of doctors, engineers and deep-sea divers to flood-prone areas along the coast and as far afield as Andaman and Nicobar Islands, a group of islands that comprise a state located about 1,300 kilometers (840 miles) east of mainland India in the Bay of Bengal.

On India’s cyclone scale, Fani is the second-most severe, equivalent to a Category 3 hurricane.

Some of the deadliest tropical cyclones on record have occurred in the Bay of Bengal.

A 1999 “super” cyclone killed around 10,000 people and devastated large parts of Odisha. Due to improved forecasts and better coordinated disaster management, the death toll from Cyclone Phailin — an equally intense storm that hit in 2013 — were less than 50, according to the World Meteorological Organization.


The 1999 super cyclone reached wind speeds of 260-280 kph (161-173 mph) per hour, said India Meteorological  Department scientist Dr. M. Mohapatra.

“This is not as bad,” he said.

Around 1.2 million people were evacuated from low-lying areas of Odisha and moved to nearly 4,000 shelters, according to India’s National Disaster Response Force.

Indian officials put the navy, air force, army and coast guard on high alert.

Odisha Special Relief Commissioner Bishnupada Sethi, who said the evacuation effort was unprecedented in India, said communications were disrupted in some areas, but no deaths or injuries had been reported.

In the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh just south of Odisha, Fani topped electricity poles and uprooted others, leaving them in sharp angles.

In the Srikakulam district, where around 20,000 people had been evacuated, thatched-roof houses collapsed and fishing boats left unmoored on beaches had been sliced into shards.

The district experienced wind speeds of 140 kph (87 mph) and received heavy rains but no loss of life or major damage was reported, district collector J. Niwas said.

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The Bangladesh Meteorological Department said the storm would reach the southwestern part of Bangladesh by Friday. /gsg

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