Odisha: Dozen dead and millions affected by cyclone Fani, PM Modi to visit on Monday: As per the reports, the strongest cyclone to hit India in five years killed at least 12 people and more than a thousand others injured in Odisha, before swinging north-eastwards into Bangladesh on Saturday where more than a million people have been moved to safety.
Though special relief commissioner Bishnupada Sethi could confirm only three deaths, news channels reported nearly a dozen deaths due to collapsing walls, falling trees, and electric poles. Officials said a higher death toll was averted with the timely evacuation of 1.1 million people in a matter of 24 hours.
Cyclone Fani, which hit the Odisha coast of Puri at 8 am on Friday with wind speeds of 220 kmph, later ravaged Bhubaneswar, Balasore, Jajpur, Khurda and Nayagarh districts in its path, twisting and turning hundreds of kilometers of power lines, toppling scores of mobile towers bringing communication to a standstill.
IMD regional director HR Biswas said that on Saturday morning, Cyclone Fani weakened into a severe storm and lay centered 60 km NW of Kolkata at 5.30 am.
Additional chief secretary Suresh Mohapatra said the government apprehended that lakhs of people would have been rendered homeless by the cyclone, but lack of communication was preventing them from making an assessment of it. He further added, “In Puri and Bhubaneswar, the telecom networks have been completely disrupted. It will take some time to restore them. We are still trying to find out the areas that have been most affected.”
Odisha energy secretary Hemant Sharma said 10,000 electric poles in Bhubaneswar have been completely damaged affecting 30 lakh consumers. He further added that electricity supply will be restored in 25 percent area of the Capital city. The electric poles and uprooted trees have brought traffic to a standstill on several national and state highways. Officials said NDRF and ODRAF units with their specialised equipments, are trying to clear the roads by this evening.
The Airport Authority of India said the first flight will begin operating from 1 pm today. Earlier AAI had suspended flights in and out of Bhubaneswar airport from May 2 midnight. The Bhubaneswar airport has suffered major damage with the facade and roofs completely blown away by the cyclone. Meanwhile, the East Coast Railways kept its operations suspended with 226 trains remaining cancelled.
National carrier Air India said if any NGO/Civil society/self-help group etc. wants to send relief material to the cyclone-affected area of Odisha, Air India would ship it free of cost.
Meanwhile, PM Narendra Modi said he will visit Odisha on Monday morning to take stock of the post-cyclone situation. In a tweet, the PM said he spoke to Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik and discussed the situation prevailing due to the cyclone while assuring continuous support from the Centre in the wake of the cyclone. He tweeted, “Entire nation stands in solidarity with all those affected by the cyclone in different parts.”
The Odisha government has evacuated over 11 lakh people, including at least 600 pregnant women, to camps on higher grounds. “I assure the affected people that the nation and the centre are with them,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at a rally in Rajasthan. He said over Rs. 1,000 crore had been released in advance for the states affected by Cyclone Fani.