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Odisha to start evacuating people as Cyclone Fani to make landfall; NDRF, Army on standby

By Anuj Cariappa

New Delhi, May 01: Odisha has sounded a red alert warning for 17 districts after the Indian Meteorological Department said that the extremely severe cyclonic storm is likely to make landfall 10km north of Chandrabhaga in Puri district on Friday afternoon. Some reports suggest that Fani could be more intense than Cyclone Title which hit Odisha last year and left 60 dead.

Cyclone 'Fani' is very likely to move northwestwards during next 12 hours and cross Odisha coast between Gopalpur and Chanbali, south of Puri around Friday afternoon, with maximum windspeed of 175-185 km/hr gusting up to 205 km/hr, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said on Wednesday.

Cyclone Fani now extremely severe says Met as Odisha braces for the worst

The armed forces and the NDRF are geared up to handle the situation once Fani hits the coast.

National Disaster Response Force said,''Total of 47 flood rescue&relief teams have been prepositioned in 25 vulnerable/coastal areas of West Bengal,Odisha,Andhra,Tamil Nadu & Kerala to meet any eventuality arising due to cyclone. In addition, 24 teams are on alert standby at NDRF bases.''

"Ships at Visakhapatnam are standing-by with relief material for immediate deployment to most affected areas to undertake Humanitarian Aid, Distress Relief operations. Diving and medical teams are kept ready augmenting rescue and relief efforts in Andhra Pradesh and Odisha," said Southern Command of Indian Army.

Meanwhile, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said about eight lakh people would be evacuated in view of "extremely severe" cyclonic storm Fani.

Chairing a high-level review meeting, he directed to ensure 100 per cent evacuation in the vulnerable areas as every life is precious, and set the goal to achieve zero-casualty. He said about eight lakh people would be evacuated to safer places by Thursday evening.

All state universities and colleges coming under administrative control of Higher Education Department and located in Ganjam, Gajapati, Puri, Khordha, Nayagarh, Cuttack, Jajpur, Bhadrak, Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur, Balasore and Mayurbhanj districts will remain closed from May 2 to 4th, said reports.All teaching, non-teaching and administrative staff will, however, have attend to office.

The Election Commission has lifted the model code of conduct in the coastal districts of the state to ensure that the state is prepared to face Fani. The Navy, the National Disaster Response Force and the Coast Guard are on high alert.

Odisha government has asked tourists in Puri to leave the temple town as they requested for additional teams and helicopters to assist them in evacuating people who will be affected.

All leaves of doctors and health staff in Odisha have been cancelled upto 15th May. Those who are on leave have been asked to report back to respective Headquarters by today evening.

Earlier the IMD had issued a yellow warning for the Odisha coast. It has also predicted heavy to very heavy rainfall at places such as Boudh, Sambalpur, Deogarh, Sundargarh and Kalahandi.

Severe cyclonic storm Fani to make landfall at Odisha coast on May 3

"It has intensified into an extremely severe cyclonic storm," Additional Director General of the IMD Mritunjay Mohapatra told PTI.

The IMD said, gale wind with speed 150 -160 kmph gusting to 170 is also likely over the districts of Ganjam, Puri, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, 110-120 kmph gusting to 130 kmph is also likely over the districts of Gajapati, Khurda, Cuttack, Jajpur, Bhadrak, Balasore, 80-90 kmph over the districts of Nayagarh, Angul, Keonjhar, Mayurbhanj, Dhenkanal and squally wind speed 30-40 kmph gust to 50 kmph over the rest districts of Odisha by the evening of May 3.

The sea conditions are very likely to be rough to very rough along and off Odisha Coast on May 2 and become high to phenomenal by May 4. Fishermen have been advised not to venture into deep sea areas of northwest and adjoining West-central Bay of Bengal along and off Odisha coast from May 2 to May 4, according to a report in ANI.

The South Eastern Railway has cancelled 43 trains scheduled to run between Howrah and Puri, and other destinations in south India over the next two days. The SER has cancelled 17 trains bound for south India and Puri. It has also decided to cancel 26 trains originating from south India, an SER official said. It has also taken precautionary measures to keep their passengers safe by carrying out special patrolling. In addition, breakdown vans and relief trains have been kept ready to cater to areas likely to be affected by the cyclone in the two states, the official said.

State-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) has also evacuated 480 of its employees from rigs operating in the Bay of Bengal ahead of an impending cyclone that is expected to make landfall on Friday.

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