At least 12 people including a child were killed on Friday as Cyclone Fani battered Odisha, causing extensive damage in Puri and many others parts of the eastern state.
Cyclonic storm Fani made landfall in Odisha’s Puri district wreaking havoc on Friday morning damaging houses, uprooting thousands of trees and electricity poles. The Odisha government has evacuated more than a million people from districts affected by India’s strongest summertime cyclone in the last 43 years and asked people to remain indoors.
India's National Disaster Response Force says around 1.2 million people have been evacuated from low-lying areas of Odisha and moved to nearly 4,000 shelters.
“After making landfall this morning, Cyclone Fani has started weakening and it’s likely to enter Bangladesh by tomorrow evening. No cyclone ever had such a long duration in April,” KJ Ramesh, director general of IMD, said while speaking to reporters.
Fani, an extremely severe cyclonic storm and which means head of a snake lashed the Odisha coast Friday morning, uprooting trees, blowing away thatched huts, and disrupting communication links.
Odisha Special Relief Commissioner Bishnupada Sethi says communications have been disrupted in some areas.
Pushan Mahapatra, MD & CEO, SBI General Insurnace said his comnany is monitoring the situation closely and is prepared for any situation in terms of settling claims aring out of the catastrophe,''.
“ We have an exposure of Rs 100 crore in tterms of premium in Orissa,'' he said in Mumbai.
India Meteorological Department said the Cyclone Fani — the strongest to hit India in five years — is gradually weakening and moving towards West Bengal after which it will enter Bangladesh. Heavy rains, along with strong winds, will continue throughout Friday in Odisha, where more than a million people have been evacuated.
Summer crops, orchards and plantations have been devastated in large scale, said government sources. Also, mobile towers at many places were blown away, disrupting telecommunication services. “All telecom services are down in Puri district,” said Special Relief Commissioner Bishnupada Sethi.
Videos tweeted by the officials of the Press Information Bureau showed the how winds gusting up to 200kmph damaged the roof of AIIMS in state capital Bhubaneswar and caused extensive damage in the temple town of Puri.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday the Centre has released more than Rs 1,000 crore to all the states, which will face the brunt of Cyclone Fani that made landfall near Puri.
Modi, who was addressing an election rally in Rajasthan, said the Centre is in touch with government in Odisha, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.
“I took the latest update from officers. I held a review meeting yesterday (on Thursday). More than Rs 1,000 cr was release to concerned governments in advance. The NDRF, Indian Coast Guard, army, navy and Air Force are working with the administration. I assure the affected people that the entire nation and the Centre are with them,” Modi said.
Bhubaneswar plunged into darkness as evening fell. The effect has been catastrophic on the low tension lines that feed the domestic power consumers, an official said.
"More than 100,000 electric poles have been ravaged in Puri and Khurda districts. Restoration of power will take longer than we anticipated. In Bhubaneswar and Puri, the transmission infrastructure needs to be relaid. No assessment of monetary damage has been made yet,” said Hemant Sharma, secretary (energy), Odisha government.
The East Coast Railways cancelled 56 more trains. Earlier, the regional railways had announced cancellation of 169 trains and diverted several others. All flight operations to and from Biju Patnaik International Airport has been stopped till tomorrow.
The IMD said Cyclone Fani is expected to weaken with a wind speed of 150-160km per hour and that it will weaken and move north-northeastwards. By evening, it may weaken into a severe cyclonic storm over the extreme northern part of Odisha, it added.
The system is then very likely to continue to move north-northeastwards, weaken gradually and emerge into Gangetic West Bengal as a “severe cyclonic storm” by the early morning of May 4.
It is very likely to move further north-northeastwards and emerge into Bangladesh on May 4 evening as a cyclonic storm.
The cyclone was almost reminiscent of super cyclone of 1999, one of the worst calamities in the state’s history, which claimed over 10,000 lives. Casualty was much less this time compared to 1999 as 1.08 million people were taken to safer places before the cyclone struck. Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik directed authorities to undertake immediate relief and restoration work.
Cat modeling agency AIR said Cyclone Fani made landfall on the Odisha coast close to Puri between 02:30 and 04:30 UTC on May 3 with 1-minute sustained wind speeds of 127 mph (204 km/h); equivalent of a strong Category 3 storm on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. According to AIR, Fani is the strongest cyclone to make landfall since Phailin in October 2013. Although Phailin was a massive storm, damage was relatively limited as it made landfall in an area of Odisha State with a relatively sparse population and low insured exposure. In addition, a steep continental shelf and elevated overland terrain helped limit flooding due to storm surge. Before Phailin’s arrival, more than 900,000 people were relocated from the coast to shelters.
According to AIR, Phailin and Fani are the strongest storms to hit India since Orissa made landfall 160 km north of Gopalpur in the southern part of Odisha in October 1999. Most recently Cyclone Hudhud made landfall near the city of Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh State in October 2014, causing widespread damage to property.
Cyclone Fani is a very strong storm for early May. Other historic cyclones on record have all made landfall in October.