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Cyclone Fani: Death toll at 34, Odisha struggles to put life back on track

Cars are damaged by an uprooted tree in a residential area following Cyclone Fani in Bhubaneswar, Odisha on May 4, 2019.

Cars are damaged by an uprooted tree in a residential area following Cyclone Fani in Bhubaneswar, Odisha on May 4, 2019.   | Photo Credit: Reuters

Although the government claimed that power would be restored in some areas, including hospitals in Bhubaneswar, by Sunday evening, officials said restoration of connections to individual homes would take at least a week in the capital and a fortnight in Puri district.

Two days after the extremely severe Cyclone Fani hit coastal Odisha, the administration on Sunday struggled to cope with the herculean task of restoring power and water supplies in the worst-affected cities of Bhubaneswar and Puri.

The Special Relief Commissioner’s Office has received confirmation of 34 deaths, while unofficial estimates put the figure at above 45. Around 1.07 crore people in 14 districts have been affected by the cyclone.

Relief trucks stranded

Several trucks carrying relief material were stranded outside Puri as roads had not been cleared with an overwhelmed administration struggling to deal with the situation. Cyclone victims, lacking food and water, queued up before offices of the Collector and others desperately seeking relief.

Utter chaos prevailed in the normally bustling tourist-pilgrim town of Puri as essential commodities, including candles, torches, biscuits and water bottles, vanished from the shelves. Desperate residents demanded restoration of electricity, but normalcy is unlikely for at least a week. A shortage of diesel required for running generators is adding to the crisis.

 

The situation was no different in the capital Bhubaneswar, where water supplies petered out in the absence of electricity. Hundreds of angry residents surrounded the offices of the water supply board and staged protests at the residences of MLAs and MPs.

Barring a few pockets where the government was able to ensure supplies, getting hold of a bottle of water turned into a major achievement in the city. The rising temperatures and extreme humidity after the cyclone aggravated the misery of the residents.

Packaged water bottles, pouches and cans were grabbed in bulk by thirsty families on Sunday. Neither big commercial establishments nor roadside kiosks were left with much stock.

Over 30 lakh consumers have been left in darkness with 19 132-KV towers, two 400-KV towers, 200 33-KV/11-KV high-tension poles, 10,000 distribution transformers and several high-tension lines suffering extensive damage, officials said.

Hospitals still in dark

Although the government claimed that power would be restored in some areas, including hospitals in Bhubaneswar, by Sunday evening, officials said restoration of connections to individual homes would take at least a week in the capital and a fortnight in Puri district.

Many families were seen shifting to hotels to tide over the crisis.

A committee, chaired by Union Cabinet Secretary P.K. Sinha, on Sunday reviewed the relief measures being undertaken in Odisha, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh.

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Printable version | Jul 11, 2020 2:34:21 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/odisha-struggles-to-restore-basic-amenities-in-the-aftermath-of-cyclone-fani/article27038914.ece

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