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A storm characterized as “one of the strongest” cyclones in India’s recorded history made landfall on Friday amid warnings of “potentially catastrophic” wind, rain, and ocean surges.

Three people have been killed as cyclone Fani made a landfall in Puri on Odisha coast around 8 am, triggering heavy rainfall coupled with high velocity winds with speed of 175 kmph in vast areas. The area along Puri is witnessing strong winds. Large areas in Puri and other places were submerged with water as heavy rains battered the entire coastal belt of the state. Several trees were uprooted and thatched structures destroyed at some places including Bhubaneswar. All flights from Bhubaneswar have been cancelled from midnight, Kolkata airport will be shut between 3 pm today and till 8 am on Saturday. A total of 140 trains including 83 passenger trains have been cancelled so far. After crossing Odisha, cyclone Fani is likely to move towards West Bengal before tapering off.

Over a million people were forced to evacuate Thursday as Cyclone Fani—classified as the equivalent of a Category 4 hurricane—hurtled toward India. Tens of millions of people are in the path of the massive storm.

Oxfam India, which is helping deliver emergency relief in response to Cyclone Fani, said the storm has already “wreaked havoc in the state of Odisha.”

“Heavy rainfall and high-speed winds have destroyed livelihoods leaving families in urgent need of help,” the group wrote. “They are in urgent need of safe drinking water, medical and hygiene supplies, food, and long-term recovery and rehabilitation support to cope with the disaster.”

Bimal Pandia, an officer with Oxfam, told The Guardian Friday morning that the storm is “quite serious now; the wind is blowing at between 120 and 150km/hour.”

Many trees have been uprooted outside our house,” Pandia said, “but since we are not able to venture outside it’s difficult to tell the damage.”

Cyclone Fani — pronounced “Foni” — also triggered heavy rains in parts of north coastal Andhra Pradesh, where gusty winds with speed reaching up to 140 kmph uprooted trees and electricity poles, officials said. The cyclone moved close to north coastal Andhra before it made landfall in Odisha. The Odisha government has already evacuated lakhs of people from the coastal areas to camps on higher grounds.

At least 14 districts in Odisha are in the path of the Cyclone Fani. People have been evacuated from Gajapati, Ganjam, Khurda, Puri, Naygarh, Cuttack, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Jajpur, Bhadrak and Balasore Mayurbhanj, Dhenkanal and Keonjhar which are expected to be badly impacted by the storm. Nearly 11 lakh people have been evacuated in last 24 hrs. Ganjam and Puri evacuated more than 3 lakh and 1.3 lakh people respectively to safe shelters. About 5000 kitchens started operating to serve people in the shelters.

The Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and disaster management agencies on stand-by. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Thursday, reviewed preparedness for Cyclone Fani with his senior-most officials.


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