‘Extremely Severe’ Cyclone Fani Forces Evacuation of 800,000 People in India

May 2, 2019 Updated: May 2, 2019

At least 800,000 people were evacuated from India’s eastern coast on April 30 as a cyclone moving through the Bay of Bengal is slated to make landfall later in the week.

Cyclone Fani is described as a Category 3 storm with 125 mph winds, according to the India Meteorological Department, which added that it is slated to bring heavy rains.

Forecast models show the storm is slated to track north before hitting the east coast. The effects of the storm will likely be felt starting on the night of May 2.

According to The Times of India, Fani is the most severe cyclonic storm since the super cyclone that slammed India in 1999, killing more than 10,000 people.

The Indian weather agency also said that it’s the first cyclone of such severity to have formed in the month of April in the area in more than 40 years, the report said.

The Meteorological Department warned of “total destruction” of thatched huts, flooding of farmland, and uprooting of poles due to the storm, Fox News reported.

“Evacuation is in progress on a war-footing,” an official told The Times. “Around 30 percent of the targeted people have so far been moved to safe places.”

Indian officials have mobilized the army, air force, and navy to deal with evacuating people.

“We’ve been preparing plans for the last few days to ensure that all the people who are vulnerable will be shifted to our cyclone centers,” Odisha’s special relief commissioner Bishnupada Sethi said, according to ABC News. “We are maximizing efforts at all levels for evacuation for the time being,” he also told Sky News.

A fisherman carries his tools
A fisherman carries his tools as he leaves for a safer place after tying his boats along the shore ahead of cyclone Fani on the outskirts of Visakhapatnam, India, on May 1, 2019. (Stringer/Reuters)

Tourists were provided special trains to leave a beach town ahead of the storm, according to ABC.

India’s cyclone season generally lasts from April to December with severe storms leading to evacuations of tens of thousands, widespread deaths, and damage to crops and property, both in India and Bangladesh, Reuters noted.

Authorities at ports in Paradip and Visakhapatnam ordered ships to move out to sea to avoid damage.

“Paradip port operations will be suspended from tonight, all vessels have been told to leave the port,” S. K. Mishra, traffic manager at the port told Reuters.

Two decades ago, a super-cyclone battered the coast of Odisha for 30 hours, killing 10,000 people. In 2013, a mass evacuation of nearly 1 million people saved thousands of lives.

Tropical Storm Risk cyclone tracker labeled Fani a category 3 storm on a scale of a low 1 to a powerful 5.

Fani also is forecast to slam Bangladesh, including the coastal district, where about a million Rohingya from Burma live in camps, ABC reported.

Reuters contributed to this report.