Cyclone ‘Fani’ has intensified into an ‘extremely severe cyclonic storm’ and it will cross the Odisha coast between Gopalpur and Chandbali by Friday afternoon, the Indian Meteorological Department said on Tuesday.
The IMD has issued a formal cyclone alert for Odisha, West Bengal and parts of Andhra Pradesh, and suggested evacuation of coastal areas.
The Cyclone Warning Division of the IMD said Cyclone 'Fani' (pronounced Foni) lays southwest and adjoining westcentral and southeast Bay of Bengal about 760 km south-southwest of Puri (Odisha) and 560 km south-southeast of Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh) and about 660 km north-northeast of Trincomalee (Sri Lanka).
Ganjam, Gajapati, Khurda, Puri and Jagatsinghpur districts of Odisha, East and West Medinipur, South and North 24 Parganas, Howrah, Hoogly and Kolkata districts of West Bengal, and Srikakulam and Vijayanagram districts of Andhra Pradesh are likely to be affected according to present indications.
Navy and Coast Guard ships and helicopters, relief teams of the National Disaster Response Force have been deployed in strategic locations, while Army and Air Force units have been put on standby.
Indian Naval ships at Visakhapatnam and Chennai are standing-by to proceed to the most affected areas to undertake Humanitarian Aid Distress Relief (HADR), evacuation, logistic support including providing medical aid, the Navy said in a statement.
"These ships are embarked with additional divers, doctors, inflatable rubber boats and relief material that include food, tentage, clothes, medicines, blankets, in quantities sufficient. Naval aircraft are also standing-by at the Naval Air Stations INS Rajali at Arakkonam, Tamilnadu and INS Dega at Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh to undertake reconnaissance, rescue, casualty evacuation and air drop of relief material to the stranded if required," the Navy said.
The NDRF is deploying 41 teams in Andhra Pradesh (8), Odisha (28) and West Bengal (5) for prepositioning.
In addition, the NDRF is keeping on standby 13 teams in West Bengal and 10 in Andhra Pradesh, the official said.
A team NDRF comprises about 45 personnel.
The IMD issued its 'yellow' warning and suggested total suspension of fishing activities operations, extensive evacuation from coastal areas, diversion or suspension of rail and road traffic. It also asked the people in areas likely to be affected by the storm to remain indoors and advised against operation of motor boats and small ships in the sea.
Distant warning signal II (DW-II) has been hoisted in all ports of Odisha and fishermen have been advised not to venture into the sea from Wednesday, the IMD said.
Director of the regional meteorological centre, H R Biswas said the impact of Cyclone 'Fani' is likely to be much more severe than 'Titli', which had hit the Odisha-Andhra coast last year and killed at least 60 people.
Heavy rainfall is very likely over north coastal Andhra Pradesh on Thursday and light to moderate rainfall at most places with heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places a day later.
South coastal Odisha is expected to receive heavy to very heavy rainfall on Thursday. Rainfall is likely to increase at most places with heavy to very heavy rains at a few places with "extremely heavy falls" at isolated places over coastal Odisha and its adjoining districts of interior Odisha on Thursday.
Light to moderate rainfall at most places with heavy falls at isolated places are very likely over coastal districts of West Bengal on May 3 and heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places with extremely heavy falls at isolated places over Gangetic West Bengal a day later.