Cyclone Fani hit the Odisha coast at around 8 am with powerful winds of 145 kilometres per hour on Friday. Mritunjay Mohapatra, in-charge of the Cyclone Warning Division of the India Meteorological Department, said the process of landfall will continue for the next three hours. The area along Puri is witnessing winds with a speed of 145 kilometres per hour that could reach up to 180-200 kmph, which could bring an "extensive damage", he said. A cyclone making a landfall implies that the first arm of the cyclone has reached the land. The eye of the cyclone, which is calm, is nearly 30 kilometres.
The Press Information Bureau took to Twitter and shared a terrifying video that captured the exact moment of the landfall. It showed gusting winds with thundershowers.
As part of the massive evacuation plan, the Odisha government moved hundreds of thousands of people to safer locations. Fani is the most severe cyclonic storm since the super cyclone of 1999 that claimed close to 10,000 lives and left a trail of destruction in vast swathes of the state, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Centre (JWTC).
India Meteorological Department (IMD) sources said it is also the first cyclonic storm of such severity to have formed in April in India's oceanic neighbourhood in 43 years. Over 11.5 lakh people in vulnerable, low lying areas of 13 districts are being shifted to cyclone shelters and other safe houses, in arguably the largest evacuation ever before an impending natural calamity, officials said.
FANI impact in Puri pic.twitter.com/s88pqKhLbR— PIB in Odisha (@PIBBhubaneswar) May 3, 2019
Lugging their valuables, people were seen boarding buses and tempos made available by the administration, or walking to safer places amid drizzle on a windy day, as the sea got increasingly rough.
Nearly 3.5 lakh people have already been evacuated to safety, official sources said. "Evacuation is in progress on a war-footing. Around 30 per cent of the targeted people have so far been moved to safe places," said a senior official.
While most people began shifting voluntarily, some who were reluctant, were persuaded to leave for safer places, he said. Fani, according to sources, has gathered speed and is rolling menacingly towards Odisha coast clocking 16 km per hour. Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard have already been put on high alert to meet any eventuality. Personnel of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF) and fire service have been deployed in vulnerable areas to assist the administration.