As Cyclone Fani aproaches coast, Odisha sounds red alert in 17 districts

Odisha sounded a red alert warning on Tuesday for 17 districts after the Met department said extremely severe cyclonic storm Fani is likely to cross Odisha coast between Gopalpur and Chandbali around Friday afternoon with maximum sustained wind of speed 175-185 kmph gusting to 205 kmph.

Quoting a special bulletin of India Meteorological Deapartment (IMD), Odisha government said storm surge of about 1.5 meter height above astronomical tide is very likely to inundate low lying areas of coastal Ganjam, Khurda, Puri and Jagatsinghpur districts at the time of landfall.

Special Relief Commissioner Bishnupada Sethi said Cyclone Fani is likely to cause extensive damage houses and disrupt rail/road link at several places.

Odisha chief secretary Aditya Padhi, who held a video-conference meeting with Union cabinet secretary, sought two choppers for rescue and relief operations.

Sethi said 20 units of Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force, 335 fire services units, 116 road clearance teams and 12 units of National Disaster Response Force have been kept ready. The Centre on Tuesday had ordered advance release of Rs. 340.875 crore for Odisha as a precautionary measure for carrying out relief operations.

IMD said cyclone Fani lay centred over Bay of Bengal about 800 km south of Puri at 11.30 am on Tuesday and moved northwestwards with a speed of about 22 kmph in last six hours. It is likely to intensify further into an extremely severe cyclonic sat0orm during next 12 hours and move northwestwards till Wednesday evening. The system would then recurve north-northeastwards and cross Odisha coast between Gopalpur and Chandbali, to the south of Puri around Friday afternoon.

Under its impact, squally wind speed reaching 40-50 kmph gusting to 60 kmph is likely to start along and off Odisha coast from Thursday. On Friday evening, Fani would hit Odisha coast with a sustained windspeed of 175-185 kmph gusting 205 kmph over Odisha coast.

On Monday, chief minister Naveen Patnaik had asked his officials to ensure zero casualty. Cyclone Titli, the last storm to hit Odisha coast in October last year had killed 61 people, many of them in tribal-dominated Gajapati district.

Patnaik met the Election Commission on Tuesday requesting postponement of polls in Assembly seat in case the cyclone hit Odisha. Elections to Patkura assembly constituency, adjourned due to the death of BJD candidate Bed Prakash Agarwal, is due on May 19.

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