Extremely critical cyclonic storm Fani on Friday ripped through Puri, the Ground Zero of the cyclone this morning, as heavy rains coupled with howling winds pummelled the pilgrim town for over four hours.
India Meteorological Department stated the Cyclone Fani — the strongest to hit India in five years — is gradually weakening and moving towards West Bengal after which it will enter Bangladesh. Heavy rains, along with strong winds, will continue throughout Friday in Odisha, where more than a million people have been evacuated.
Sustained winds of 180-190 km per hour bent and broke almost each coconut trees, ripped through the asbestos and tin roofs of several houses including that of Puri district collector and superintendent of police while bringing down the boundary walls of several schools and colleges.
The storm which wreaked havoc in Puri between 8 am and 12.30 pm before moving to rest of the State claimed five lives across the state.
In Puri, the circuit house, the residences of the district collector, the superintendent of police were ripped apart by the raging winds. As the winds raged, hundreds of tin and aluminum signboards were wrenched away as the wind battered the area. Almost all the trees in the town were broken or uprooted.
In Nayagarh district, a 35-year-old woman died after a wall of her kutcha house fell during heavy rains, the other casualties while two were reported dead in Bhubaneswar and one in Puri.
A 65-year-old woman died at a cyclone shelter in Devendranarayanpur under Rajnagar block of Kendrapara district.
“We have evacuated 10.5 lakh people to over 4800 cyclone shelters and schools from different districts ahead of the landfall of Fani. We could minimize the death toll due to maximum evacuation,” declared special relief commissioner Bishnupada Sethi. People in these cyclone shelters are being given cooked food and dry food.
Power supply and telecommunications were off in Puri soon after the cyclone struck. More than 1600 km long of low tension line and high tension lines have been completely damaged by the storm. Various power transformers were badly damaged.
A district official stated it would take at least a day to restore telecommunication lines. Another 7 days would be needed to restore the power supply.
In Bhubaneswar, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences reported extensive damage hours after cyclone Fani moved away from Puri. Many water tanks were blown away while electric poles were uprooted.
A 32-year-old woman in Bhubaneswar named her daughter Fani soon after she was born in Railway Hospital today. The woman works as a helper at Coach Repair Workshop, Mancheswar. Doctors said both the mother and child are fine.