Thousands of pilgrims have fled Puri in the wake of the Phailin threat.

The 12th century Shri Jagannath temple wore a deserted look. “The usual congregation around the temple is clearly missing. We, however, are continuing the daily rituals,” said Laxmidhar Pujapanda, spokesperson of Shri Jagannath Temple Administration.

While many tourists from 400-odd hotels have left for Bhubaneswar, a sizeable number of tourists are stranded as the East Coast Railway cancelled trains originating from here.

“When we checked in the hotel a couple of days ago, there was a talk of cyclone brewing in the sea. We thought it will fizzle out as was happening in most of the cases. But little did we know that it would take shape of the 1999 super cyclone,” said Bikash Goel from Dhanbad. “Taxis are available, but drivers have run away to their respective villages in view of the threat. Our only hope was trains, services of which have been cancelled.”

About 250 seaside hotels have been vacated by tourists. Many, who could not go out of Puri, are shifting themselves to safer places away from the coast.

Prafulla Das reports from Bhubaneswar:

Heavy rainfall, accompanied by wind, continued to lash most parts of coastal Odisha on Saturday.

The authorities had evacuated 2.94 lakh people and efforts were on to evacuate more people from the low-lying areas, P.K. Mohapatra, State Special Relief Commissioner, said.

Many trees had been uprooted at several locations, including Bhubaneswar. The government had set up many centres for packaging relief materials and all the districts likely to be hit by the cyclone were ready to cope with any eventuality.

Power failure in many areas affected life as people stayed indoors despite the Durga Puja festival.