Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal brace for cyclone; NDRF, Navy on high alert

Cyclone Fani, which has transformed into an 'extremely severe cyclonic storm', was moving in a north-westerly direction towards the Andhra Pradesh-Odisha coast from its location at around 190 km from Andhra Pradesh's Vishakhapatnam, 360 km from Puri in Odisha and 550 km from Digha in West Bengal at 11:30 am in the morning today.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) said in its early morning bulletin that a total of 19 districts of Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, and West Bengal are expected to be hit by the cyclone, with the Met Department issuing a special bulletin on Wednesday warning about possible destruction in the areas.
The bulletin informed that the extremely severe Fani cyclone, pronounced as 'Foni', is likely to cross Odisha coast between Gopalpur and Chandbali, near Puri on Friday (May 3) afternoon, with a maximum speed of 170-180 kmph gusting to 200 kmph. An 'Orange message' alert has been issued by the IMD for Odisha, West Bengal and Srikakulam, Vijayanagaram and Visakhapatnam districts of Andhra Pradesh coasts in the wake of the oncoming Fani cyclone. 
The helpline number in case of emergencies during the storm is 1077. 
The intensity of Cyclone Fani is expected to be less than that of Cyclone Phailin but more than that of Titli, IMD ADG Mrityunjay Mohapatra was quoted as saying by Odisha TV. The ADG added that the intensity is likely to be similar to that of cyclone Hudhud. 
The storm surge warning issued by the IMD bulletin at 11:30 am said that the storm surge of about 1.5 meter height above astronomical tide is very likely to inundate low lying areas. These areas include Ganjam, Khurda, Puri and Jagatsinghpur districts of Odisha at the time of landfall. 
Civil aviation minister Suresh Prabhu said that all concerned authorities have been alerted in order to ensure that they are ready to deal with cyclone Fani. In a tweet, he said, "Alerted all concerned to be ready to deal with Cyclone Fani. Airport Authority of India issued alert to all coastal airports to ensure all precautions, SOPs (standard operating procedures) put in place immediately." 
“NDRF has deployed 50 teams in all the states that are expected to be affected due to the extremely severe cyclone Fani,” Randeep Kumar Rana, DIG (Operations) NDRF, said while giving details about the preparedness of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) ahead of Cyclone Fani. He said that 28 teams have been deployed in the coastal areas of Odisha which are expected to face the maximum brunt because of the cyclone. 
He added that the cyclone is also likely to have a partial impact in the coastal areas of West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh. “Till the time the landfall does not happen - which is likely to occur after Friday afternoon -  the NDRF, along with state agencies and other agencies, will continue to spread awareness among the people about how to protect life and property during cyclones,” he said. 
The districts likely to face maximum impact due to Cyclone Fani in Odisha are: Puri, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Balasore, Bhadrak, Ganjam, Khurda, Jajpur, Nayagarh, Cuttack, Gajapati, Mayurbhanj, Dhenkanal and Keonjhar. 
In West Bengal, the areas likely to be affected by the Cyclone include districts of East and West Medinipur, South and North 24 Parganas, Howrah, Hooghly, Jhargram, and Kolkata. On the other hand, the districts of Srikakulam, Vijayanagaram and Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh are expected to face the brunt of Fani cyclone. 
Cyclone Fani, which has intensified into an extremely severe cyclonic storm, has the distinction of being the first severe cyclonic storms to have formed in Bay of Bengal since April 1976. It also holds the dubious record of being the second severe April cyclone that will make landfall in India in 118 years. 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, today chaired a high-level meeting to review preparedness for Cyclone Fani. The meeting was attended by the cabinet secretary, the principal secretary to the PM, the additional principal secretary to the PM, the home secretary, and other senior officials from the IMD, NDRF, NDMA and PMO etc.
The Prime Minister was briefed on the likely path of the cyclone, and the ongoing precautionary and preparatory measures being undertaken.
These include provision of adequate resources; deployment of teams from NDRF and the Armed Forces; arrangements to provide drinking water; and standby systems to restore power and telecom services.
After reviewing the emerging situation, the Prime Minister instructed senior officers of the Union Government to maintain close coordination with officers of the affected States, to ensure preventive measures, and also to take effective steps for relief and rescue operations, as required.