The Odisha government on Thursday started evacuating people from low-lying areas in several coastal districts to safer places as cyclone Fani is likely to hit the State’s coast in Puri district on Friday evening.
As the sky remained overcast since morning, light rain has begun in many areas in the coastal belt. More than 8 lakh people were to be brought to cyclone shelters and other safer places by this evening, according to officials. Adequate arrangements have been made at the cyclone shelters.
The India Meteorological Department has predicted that Fani will make landfall at around 5.30 p.m. on Friday with wind speeds at 170-180 kmph gusting to 200 kmph, accompanied by tidal surge of about 1.5 metres.
As many as 25 teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF) along with State fire service personnel have been engaged in the evacuation exercise. Defence forces are on high alert to meet any eventuality.
The East Coast Railway has announced to run at least three special trains from Puri to West Bengal during the day. More than 80 trains had been cancelled between Bhadrak and Vizianagaram stations on Thursday.
14 districts in Odisha which are likely to be affected by the cyclone are Ganjam, Gajapati, Puri, Khurda, Nayagarh, Cuttack, Dhenkanal, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Jajpur, Keonjhar, Bhadrak, Balasore and Mayurbhanj.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Thursday appealed to the people to not panic, and cooperate with the administration in handling the situation.
Stating that the State government was fully ready to tackle the situation, Mr. Patnaik emphasised the need to pay special attention to women, children, elderly and people with disabilities during the cyclone.
The Chief Minister met the telecom operators at the State Secretariat this morning and reviewed their preparadness to maintain communication link during the cyclone.
Mr. Patnaik also held one-on-one talks with Secretaries of line departments regarding their preparedness.