Cyclone Fani Hits India’s East Coast, 1.2 Million Evacuated

May 3, 2019 Updated: May 3, 2019

Cyclone Fani has made landfall on India’s eastern coast as a grade 5 storm, lashing the emptied beaches with rain and wind gusting up to 205 kilometers (127 miles) per hour.

There were no early reports of casualties.

Stranded passengers rest inside a railway station after trains between Kolkata and Odisha were cancelled ahead of Cyclone Fani, in Kolkata, India, May 3, 2019. (Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters)

The India Meteorological Department says the “extremely severe” cyclone in the Bay of Bengal hit the coastal state of Odisha around 8 a.m. on May 3.

India’s National Disaster Response Force says around 1.2 million people have been evacuated from low-lying areas of Odisha and moved to nearly 4,000 shelters.

Stranded passengers rest inside a railway station after trains between Kolkata and Odisha were cancelled ahead of Cyclone Fani, in Kolkata, India, May 3, 2019. (Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters)

Hundreds of disaster management personnel were deployed in the state, and doctors and other medical staff were told to defer any leave until May 15.

Neighboring West Bengal also decided to close an airport at Kolkata, its state capital.

Odisha Special Relief Commissioner Bishnupada Sethi says communications have been disrupted in some areas.

A destroyed fuel filing station by cyclone Fani after its landfall is seen on the outskirts of Puri, in the Indian state of Odisha, Friday, May 3, 2019. Extremely severe cyclonic storm Fani made landfall in Eastern Indian state of Odisha coast, triggering heavy rainfall coupled with high velocity winds with gale-force winds of up to 200 kilometers (124 miles) per hour. (AP Photo)

Close to 60 km (37 miles) inland, high winds uprooted trees and electricity poles in the state capital, Bhubaneshwar, where authorities had ordered the airport to stay closed. Schools and colleges in Odisha were also shut.

Fani is the fiercest storm since 1999, when a cyclone killed around 10,000 people and devastated large parts of Odisha.

India’s cyclone season can last from April to December, when severe storms batter coastal cities and cause widespread deaths and damage to crops and property in both India and neighboring Bangladesh.

Street shops are seen collapsed due to gusty winds ahead of the landfall of cyclone Fani on the outskirts of Puri, in the Indian state of Odisha, Friday, May 3, 2019. (AP Photo)

Technological advancements have helped meteorologists to predict weather patterns well in advance, and authorities have become far better at preparing for the ferocious storms and reducing casualties.

Cyclones typically quickly lose power as they move inland.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked his officials to stay in touch with the states at risk from cyclone Fani.

An Indian farmer lies on the road after falling while crossing the road due to gusty winds ahead of the landfall of cyclone Fani on the outskirts of Puri, in the Indian state of Odisha, Friday, May 3, 2019. (AP Photo)
Villagers move to safer places amidst gusty winds ahead of the landfall of cyclone Fani on the outskirts of Puri, in the Indian state of Odisha, Friday, May 3, 2019. (AP Photo)
Street shops are seen collapsed due to gusty winds preceding the landfall of cyclone Fani on the outskirts of Puri, in the Indian state of Odisha, Friday, May 3, 2019. (AP Photo)

Reuters contributed to this article

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