Cyclone Fani makes landfall in India | News | DW | 03.05.2019
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Cyclone Fani makes landfall in India

Cyclone Fani has made landfall in northeastern India and is expected to unleash extensive destruction. Nearly a million people were evacuated ahead of the storm.

Cyclone Fani, one of the biggest storms to come off the Indian Ocean in recent years, made landfall in eastern India at 8 a.m. local time (0230 UTC) on Friday, the country's Meteorological Department said.

The department said wind speeds were between 175 and 185 kilometers per hour (109 and 115 miles per hour). The eye of the storm, currently located over the Bay of Bengal, is expected to make landfall within two hours.

On Thursday, hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated along India's eastern coast in anticipation of the powerful cyclone. 

Read more: Saving Mumbai's natural mangrove buffer against rising tides 

The Meteorological Department warned of 1.5-meter (4.9-foot) storm surges inundating low coastal areas with heavy rainfall and flooding in parts of Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal states. It projected "total destruction" of thatched houses, uprooting of power and communication poles, damage to roads and the loss of crops and orchards.

Preparing for the worst 

Around 1 million people were expected to be evacuated from low-lying areas to cyclone shelters, schools and other buildings, authorities said.

Officials are worried that Fani could be the worst major storm to slam into India's east coast in two decades. In 1999, a cyclone in Odisha killed almost 10,000 people.

Read more: The world's deadliest hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones 

The National Disaster Response Force has sent 54 relief teams to flood-prone areas along the coast and stocked up food, water and medicine. Meanwhile, the Indian navy, air force, army and coast guard were on standby for relief operations.

Two major ports — Paradip and Visakhapatnam — have closed and ships ordered out to sea to avoid damage. 

Train services and air travel have also been impacted. Ahead of landfall, three special trains were running to remove pilgrims and tourists from Puri. 

Indien Region Puri vor Ankunft von Zyklon Fani (Reuters)

Thousands have left their homes in low-lying areas for safer ground

Bangladesh, Rohingya refugees in pathway

Once the cyclone makes landfall, it is expected to move northeastward and gradually weaken over West Bengal and Bangladesh over the weekend.

Fani was forecast to move over low-lying Bangladesh and track near Cox's Bazar, where more than a million Rohingya refugees live in camps after fleeing violence in Myanmar.

dv,cw/sms (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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