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India to evacuate 8 lakh people along east coast before Cyclone Fani hits

Reuters     May 2, 2019

India will use boats, buses and trains to evacuate 8 lakh people along its east coast on Thursday ahead of an approaching cyclone that is forecast to make landfall within 24 hours, officials said.

Severe Cyclonic Storm Fani was centred in the west of the Bay of Bengal, the India Meteorological Office said. The south coast of Odisha was also expected to get heavy to very heavy rainfall on Thursday, it said in a bulletin.

The state-run weather office also forecast wind speeds gusting up to 200 kph (125 mph) by Friday. Cyclone tracker Tropical Storm Risk rated Fani a mid-range category 3 storm.

About 8,00,000 people were expected to be evacuated from low-lying areas of 14 districts in Odisha to cyclone shelters, safer schools and college buildings, a government statement said.

"We are maximising efforts at all levels for evacuation for the time being," Odisha's Special Relief Commissioner Bishnupada Sethi told Reuters.

Tourists have also been advised to leave coastal towns in West Bengal and Odisha, state government officials said.

Sea conditions were also likely to be very rough off the coast of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh and Puducherry, the weather office said.

India's cyclone season generally lasts from April to December, with severe storms often leading to the evacuation of tens of thousands of people, widespread deaths and damage to crops and property in both India and Bangladesh.

A super-cyclone battered the coast of Odisha for 30 hours, killing 10,000 people, two decades ago. A mass evacuation of nearly a million people in 2013 likely saved thousands of lives.

Also Read: Cyclone Fani: 103 trains cancelled as 'extremely severe' storm to hit Odisha; here's list of trains cancelled

Also read: ONGC evacuates 500 employees before cyclone Fani makes landfall

Also read: Have taken pre-emptive measures to deal with cyclone Fani: Coast Guard

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