800,000 evacuated in India ahead of major cyclone

May 2, 2019
| Report Focus News

About 800,000 people are being evacuated from low-lying areas of India’s east coast, as a cyclone is expected to make landfall on Friday afternoon near the Hindu holy town of Puri.

Boats, buses and trains are being used to move residents in 14 districts to cyclone shelters, safer schools and college buildings.

Tourists have also been urged to leave coastal towns in West Bengal and Odisha, where heavy to very heavy rainfall is forecast along the south coast on Thursday.

Severe Cyclonic Storm Fani is currently a category three storm, and wind speeds gusting up to 125mph are forecast by Friday.

Odisha’s special relief commissioner, Bishnupada Sethi, said: “We are maximising efforts at all levels for evacuation for the time being.”

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

A super-cyclone battered the coast of Odisha for 30 hours, killing 10,000 people, two decades ago.

It is estimated that the mass evacuation of almost a million people ahead of a storm in 2013 saved thousands of lives.