Odisha is moving 1.15 million people from the impact zone of cyclonic storm Fani making it the largest ever evacuation operation in the country. The state had moved 900,000 people from vulnerable areas when tropical cyclone Phailin had hit the state in 2013, just a shade below the previous record set by Andhra Pradesh.
By this evening, the state had moved about 800,000 people to safer locations from the vulnerable pockets as cyclone Fani moved at a quicker pace towards the Puri coast for landfall on Friday morning likely between 8 am and 10 am.
The entire evacuation operation encompassing 15 vulnerable districts will relocate people to 4852 identified shelters, said an official.
With the impending cyclone, train and flight services have been impacted. East Coast Railway sources said that 147 trains have been cancelled and three trains are diverted through other routes.
Special Relief commissioner Bishnupada Sethi has announced that there will be no flights to and from Bhubaneswar from the midnight (of Thursday) for the next 24 hours.
Private airlines Indigo, Vistara and GoAir have already cancelled their flights to and from Bhubaneswar scheduled for Friday. Similarly, Air Asia has followed the suit by cancelling its international flight Bangkok-Bhubaneswar-Bangkok scheduled for Thursday.
As many as 25 teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have been deployed in the districts which will be affected by the extremely severe cyclonic storm and three more teams are on standby in Bhubaneswar.
Chief minister Naveen Patnaik has urged the people of the state to remain indoors in the wake of landfall of Fani.
According to the latest bulletin of IMD, Fani is moving at speed of about 17 kilometers per hour and located at around 320 kilometers south-southwest of Puri and 170 Km east- southeast of Vishakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh.
The cyclone at the time of touching the land will generate a maximum sustained wind speed of 170-180 kilometers per hour (kmph) gusting upto 200 kmph.
Coastal districts to be affected by the cyclonic storm- Puri, Ganjam, Khurda, Cuttack, Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur, Bhadrak and Balasore will face power outages.
Hemant Sharma, secretary (energy) said, “When wind speed exceeds 50 km per hour, power lines need to be shut off in view of safety of the consumers. The power lines will be operational two to three hours after the cyclone passes. This will be done in phases after a process of proper inspection and restoration”.