As cyclone Fani is expected to trigger heavy rains in the northeast after hitting West Bengal, the Assam government on Friday (May 3) directed all district deputy commissioners and agencies concerned to be on alert and take necessary measures to deal with the situation.
The Central Water Commission, in a bulletin, has forecast high rainfall in west and central Assam districts on May 4 and 5. According to a release by the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA), state disaster response force (SDRF) personnel have been deployed in 40 locations across the state.
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have reached for pre-positioning in Cachar, Barpeta, Bongaigaon, Sonitpur, Tinsukia and Jorhat districts. Dhemaji district and Patgaon in Guwahati each already have an NDRF battalion stationed there, the release said.
Toll-free numbers have been set up in the district and state control rooms which will be operational round the clock. The toll-free number for the district control room is 1077 and the those for the state control room are 1070 and 1079. The ASDMA is in constant touch with the central government, the Central Water Commission, India Meteorological Department and disaster management authorities of neighbouring states, the statement said.
Three people were killed in separate incidents as cyclone Fani battered the Odisha coast Friday, officials said. A teenager was killed when a tree came crashing down on him at a place within Sakhigopal police station area limits in Puri district. Flying debris from a concrete structure hit a woman in Nayagarh district when she had gone to fetch water, killing her. In Debendranarayanpur village in Kendrapara district, a 65-year-old woman died after suspected heart attack at a cyclone shelter, official information reaching here said.
Officials on alert
A defence release said six light helicopters with winch have been kept ready for rescue work, five medium lift helicopters for providing relief materials and four AN-32 aircraft along with medical relief teams have been kept ready for medical help and ferrying NDRF teams with equipment.
Meanwhile, the railways will transport aid and relief materials free of cost to cyclone Fani affected Odisha, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh, the national transporter said on Friday, in the wake of large-scale devastation by cyclonic storm. The railways issued a set of guidelines and in a letter to all Divisional Railway Managers (DRMs) said all government organisations can book relief material free of cost to the affected states.
The main business districts of the city wore a deserted look by Friday afternoon as the fear of devastation by the severe cyclonic storm Fani sent the people to the safety of their homes. People who had gone out for work in the morning wrapped up their schedule as fast as possible, while many schools declared a holiday.
The wind velocity is likely to touch 60 km per hour in the city and adjoining districts on Friday, the weatherman said. Gale wind speed reaching 90 to 100 kmph, gusting to 115 kmph is very likely along and off West Bengal coast from midnight, while in the interior parts the wind speed may reach upto 80 kmph, according to the Met department.
Landfall in Puri
The extremely severe cyclonic storm made landfall at around 8 am in Puri but thanks to enough advance warning, about 11 lakh people had already been evacuated from vulnerable and low-lying areas of at least 11 coastal districts of Odisha by Thursday (May 2).
“The landfall process started Friday 8 am close to Puri and the eye of the system has completely moved into land by 10 am. The extremely severe cyclonic storm Fani weakened into very severe cyclonic storm and lay centred at 11:30 am about 10 km to east of Bhubaneswar and 30 km to the south of Cuttack,” a home ministry statement said.
“As a precautionary measure keeping in view the safety of passengers, SERs EMU service will run as per Sundays schedule on May 3,” its spokesman Sanjay Ghosh said Besides nine other up and 10 down EMU locals will also remain cancelled. Eastern Railway cancelled several EMU locals in its Sealdah south section from 3 pm to Friday midnight and planned to suspend operations from midnight till 6 am Saturday in the section, its spokesman Nikhil Chakraborty said.
However, rains lashed parts of Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh as a fall out of cyclone Fani. Nine head of cattle and 12 sheep were killed in rain-related incidents, while over 2,000 electricity poles were uprooted because of high velocity winds and 218 cellular phone towers damaged, they said.
Roof damaged at AIIMS Bhubaneswar
The Union Health Ministry on Friday (May 3) announced cancellation of Bhubaneswar as a centre for the AIIMS PG 2019 examination due to cyclone Fani. The cyclone rolled through Odisha on Friday, packing rain and windstorm that gusted up to 175 kmph, leaving at least three people dead, blowing away thatched houses, and swamping towns and villages. According to sources, a part of the roof of a building at AIIMS Bhubaneswar was also ripped off in the cyclonic storm, but all students, staff and patients were learnt to be safe.
Cyclone Fani will alter the weather conditions in Nepal and bring heavy rainfall and snowfall in the Himalayas, meteorologists warned on Friday.
A baby was born in an Odisha railway hospital as the extremely severe storm wreaked its havoc on Friday and her name came to officials in a flash — she could only be Lady Fani for them. The baby was born at 11.03 am in the railway hospital in Mancheswar, barely five km from the Odisha capital Bhubaneswar, officials said.
₹1,000 cr relief fund
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said over ₹1,000 crore had been released in advance for the states affected by cyclone Fani. Addressing an election rally here, he said the government was with the people in times of crises. A detailed review meeting was held and he had been given the latest updates on Fani, Modi said as the extremely severe cyclonic storm hit Odisha on Friday morning.
“Lakhs of families are affected by a cyclone in the coastal areas of Odisha, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry and the Centre is in touch with the state governments. I got the latest update from officers sometime ago and also held a detailed review meeting yesterday. More than ₹1,000 crore have been released in advance,” Modi told the rally in Rajasthans Hindaun town, located in Karauli district.
“I want to assure the people of the cyclone-hit states that the entire country and the Centre are standing by the affected families and the state governments,” Modi said.