Cyclone Fani is crossing over the Indian Ocean with speeds above 200 km/h (127 mph), is expected to make landfall on Friday in the state of Orissa, an eastern Indian state on the Bay of Bengal that has a population of roughly 45 million, reported CNN.
Fani has been labeled as an “extremely severe cyclonic storm” by Indian government officials, prompting them to call up the Coast Guard and Navy to deploy ships, ground vehicles, and helicopters for relief and rescue operations through the weekend. Military units have established temporary camps in Odisha, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh states, on standby to assist local law enforcement in search and rescue operations once the storm passes.
Across Odisha, more than 900 shelters have been erected to house evacuees, and the school system has been shut down across the state for the foreseeable future.
“They are being told what to take with them if they leave and the precautions they need to take if they stay,” said Ameya Patnaik, assistant commandant for the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) in Odisha.
More than 1 million people have been evacuated from Odisha. Evacuations have also begun in Andhra Pradesh, while those in West Bengal have been told by government officials to be ready to leave, said CNN.
Fani will bring massive storm surges and significant wind damage near the landfall location. Inland flooding will be a significant threat. Portions of eastern India and Bangladesh can expect 6 to 12 inches of rain. As Fani approaches India, it will be moving nearly parallel to the coast.
— India Today (@IndiaToday) May 2, 2019
Bloomberg reported that several companies with operations in the region are taking precautionary measures. State-run power producer NTPC Ltd. shut down one of its 3,000-megawatt Talcher Kaniha plant in Odisha on Thursday, said Operations Director Prakash Tiwari.
Indian Oil Corp., which operates a large refinery at Paradip in coastal Odisha, has begun to take necessary steps to control the impact, said B.V. Rama Gopal, refineries director.
“Weather is clear as of now and operations are all normal,” he said. “Paradip refinery is designed to withstand cyclones with speed of more than 200 kilometers per hour.”
Airlines have also prepared for the storm. Hundreds of flights have been canceled to Bhubaneswar, capital of Odisha, and Kolkata, capital of West Bengal, through Sunday. IndiGo airlines canceled all flights to Visakhapatnam, in Andhra Pradesh, for Thursday.
Fani is the first cyclone of the year in the northern Indian Ocean. It’s likely this large storm will wobble closer to the Indian coastline Thursday night, then make landfall in the Odisha region sometime Friday.