Efforts on to face Fani aftermath in India

The Indian government on Saturday said it is dispatching health experts to Odisha, the state worst-hit by extremely severe cyclonic storm ‘Fani,’ to prevent outbreak of epidemic and the Navy mounted a massive three-pronged rescue and rehabilitation effort in the state in the wake of extensive devastation caused by the nature’s fury.

The cyclone claimed 12 lives in Odisha and four persons perished in lightning and tree collapse in eastern part of Uttar Pradesh which experienced the effects of Fani. Two maritime Recce sorties were undertaken early on Saturday morning by the Navy’s Dornier aircraft revealed widespread destruction localised around the temple town of Puri on the coast of the Bay of Bengal.

Separately, a Naval dornier aircraft deployed to carry out aerial survey of Odisha to assess the impact of ‘Fani’observed extensive devastation to vegetation in many places around Puri. A large number of trees and electric poles were found uprooted creating road blocks in the city limits of Puri, a popular tourist resort, a Defence Ministry statement said.

The roof-top of Puri railway station was found to be blow off and vast areas were inundated particularly in low-lying areas between Puri and Chilka lake, it added. Odisha government said extensive damage to telecommunications and power infrastructure had been caused in Puri, state capital city Bhubaneswar and other areas. However, due to advance precautionary measures taken and large-scale evacuation, the loss of human lives was minimal.

West Bengal government reported mild impact of the cyclone while Andhra Pradesh authorities informed heavy rainfall and some damage to crops and roads in Srikakulam district. Indian Cabinet Secretary P K Sinha, who reviewed the situation on Saturday, directed the federal Power Ministry and Telecom Department to immediately assist Odisha government by providing electrical poles, gang workmen and diesel generator sets for quick restoration of electricity supply.

While the transmission line supplying power to Bhubaneswar is expected to be restored by today, the Telecom Department indicated that mobile services would be restored partially by today. The Railways, which suffered major damages to its infrastructure, have cleared the mainline and would start part of the operations using diesel-operated locomotives by today. Flights to Bhubaneswar resumed this afternoon

The National Disaster Reduction Force has moved 16 additional teams for rescue and relief work in Odisha and removed toppled trees and other obstacles on most of the roads. Based on its aerial surveys by the Navy, it is undertaking a three-pronged rescue and rehabilitation effort centred around Puri and its suburbs in coordination with the Odisha government.

Relief material comprising food, essential medical supplies, clothing items, disinfectants, repair material, chain saws for removing damaged trees, torches and batteries have been sent to INS Chilka, a naval establishment in Odisha, closest to Puri. Simultaneously, three Naval ships were pressed into rescue and rehabilitation efforts from the sea. The ships are now operating off Puri and coordinating aerial survey and immediate response from the sea through their integral helicopters.

The Navy has deployed its teams in cyclone-affected areas around Puri who are directing the rescue and relief efforts being undertaken by the ships. In order to sustain the rescue and relief over the next few days, the Navy has kept ready additional ships carrying relief material. Meanwhile, the threat from 'Fani' to West Bengal has receded, a senior Met official said today.

 As per forecast, there will be moderate to light rainfall, particularly in West Bengal’s districts adjacent to Bangladesh but the weather condition in and around Kolkata by tomorrow, Deputy Director General of the Regional Meteorological Centre here, Sanjib Bandyopadhyay said. "There is absolutely no threat from this system (cyclone Fani) to West Bengal. The very severe cyclonic storm has weakened into a severe cyclonic storm from extremely severe cyclonic storm over Odisha coast before entering West Bengal," he said.

West Bengal government had taken precautionary measures Friday in East and West Midnapore, North and South 24 Parganas districts, besides Howrah, Hooghly, Jhargram, Kolkata and the Sundarbans, in wake of the cyclonic storm.