People in nine districts are being evacuated today
(This story has been updated. It was earlier published with just Odisha Special Relief Commissioner Bishnupada Sethi's statement)
Cyclone Fani, the extremely severe storm, will make landfall between Gopalpur and Chandbali around Puri in Odisha on the afternoon of May 3, 2019, says India Meteorological Department (IMD). Earlier, IMD had predicted that the cyclone would make landfall in the evening of May 3. This means that the cyclone has picked up pace.
On May 1, 2019, Odisha Special Relief Commissioner Bishnupada Sethi had, quoting IMD, said the cylone would hit the Odisha coast at 5.30 pm on May 3.
More than a million people are expected to be evacuated from nine districts including Puri, Ganjam, Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur, Cuttack, Jajpur, Khurda, Bhadrak and Balasore. Mayurbhanj district in northern Odisha may also experience heavy rainfall. “May 2 will see evacuation operations and the Air Force is letting us use two helicopters for the relief and rescue mission,” Sethi said.
He added that the state government had cancelled the leave of all government employees, doctors, para medical staff and police personnel across the state to be able to handle the cyclone. The district collectors have asked employees not to leave the headquarters and those on leave have been asked to join duty immediately, he said.
Odisha Director General of Police RP Sharma and the state health department have also opted for the same all-hands-on-deck approach. The Odisha government has already deputed 12 senior IAS officers to oversee relief, rescue and restoration operation.
Government officials said more than one lakh dry food packets have been kept to be distributed in relief camps or, if needed, from a helicopter.
The Puri district administration has asked all tourists to leave Puri by May 2 and requested hotels to not let people book rooms between May 2 and May 5.
The East Coast Railway has cancelled 81 trains from May 2 and diverted routes of two trains.
The government has also ordered that all educational institutions be shut from May 3 and the examinations be rescheduled. The Biju Patnaik University of Technology has rescheduled examinations in 164 colleges — exams originally to be held on May 2, May 3 and May 4 would now be on May 25, May 27 and May 28.
The Paradip Port Trust has suspended all such ships from operating at the port and asked them to reposition.
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