BHUBANESWAR": The extremely severe cyclonic storm Fani continues to strengthen as it tracks over the Bay of Bengal and is very likely to move north-northeastwards and cross Odisha coast between Gopalpur and Chandbali, around Puri on May 3 afternoon with maximum sustained wind of speed 170 km/hr to180 Km/hr and gusting up to 200 Km/hr.
As it packed power, the Odisha Government alerted all districts while issuing special instructions to 14 coastal and interior districts to remain vigilant. Evacuation of the elderly, women, children and physically challenged to cyclone shelters would commence from May 2 from the coastal districts.
The Centre pushed at least 28 NDRF teams, including 10 from outside the State. The government started deploying 20 ODRAF units for rescue and relief operations. It has also sought two helicopters from the Centre to assist in the post-calamity operations.
Fani, now an extremely severe cyclonic storm, is expected to intensify further and may make landfall between Gopalpur and Chandbali, around Puri on May 3 afternoon, Director, Bhubaneswar Meteorological Centre, HR Biswas said.
According to India Meteorological Department (IMD), the tropical storm over west-central Bay of Bengal moved north-northeastwards with a speed of about 13 km/hr in the last six hours and lay centered over west-central Bay of Bengal, about 570 km south-southwest of Puri, 320 km south-southeast of Visakhapatnam and 760 km of south-southwest of Digha. Under its influence, light to moderate rainfall will occur at most places in the State, and heavy to very heavy rainfall will occur at isolated places over south coastal Odisha on May 2.
While moderate rainfall will occur at most places, heavy to very heavy rainfall will occur at few places and extremely heavy rainfall will lash isolated places over the coastal region and adjoining districts of interior Odisha on May 3.
The rainfall activity will continue with light to moderate rainfall occurring at most places and heavy to very heavy rainfall at isolated places over north Odisha on May 4. IMD has already issued orange alert for Gajapati, Ganjam, Puri, Khurda, Rayagada and Kandhamal districts on May 2 and red warning for 25 districts including Khurda, Cuttack, Jagatsinghpur, Jajpur, Puri, Bhadrak, Ganjam, Kendrapara, Balasore and Angul on May 3.
The officials suspect extensive damage to kutcha houses, partial damage to badly maintained pucca houses, extensive uprooting of communication and power poles, the potential threat from flying objects, disruption of rail and road links, damages to large boats and ships in Ganjam, Gajapati, Khurda, Puri and Jagatsinghpur districts.
In view of the rough sea conditions during the next 72 hours, IMD has also advised fishermen those who are out in deep sea areas to return to the coast by May 1.
Private weather forecaster Skymet said, after making landfall near Puri district on May 3, Fani will move north-northeast through Gangetic West Bengal. However, by the time Fani will reach West Bengal, it will have weakened into a cyclonic storm.