780,000 evacuated in India ahead of major cyclone

Nearly 800,000 people in India’s eastern coastal districts have been evacuated ahead of the expected arrival of a major cyclone packing winds of up to 200 kilometres (125 miles) per hour, officials said Thursday.

Severe Cyclonic Storm Fani was centered in the west of the Bay of Bengal, the India Meteorological Office said. The south coast of Odisha state was also expected to get heavy to very heavy rainfall on Thursday, it said in a bulletin.

The state-run weather office also forecast wind speeds gusting up to 200 kph (125 mph) by Friday. Cyclone tracker Tropical Storm Risk rated Fani a mid-range category 3 storm.

About 800,000 people were expected to be evacuated from low-lying areas of 14 districts in Odisha to cyclone shelters, safer schools and college buildings, a government statement said.

“We are maximizing efforts at all levels for evacuation for the time being,” Odisha’s Special Relief Commissioner Bishnupada Sethi told Reuters.

Tourists have also been advised to leave coastal towns in West Bengal and Odisha, state government officials said.

Sea conditions were also likely to be very rough off the coast of the southeastern states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh and federally administered Puducherry, the weather office said.



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