03 May 2019
Kolkata: Cyclonic storm Fani, now situated in Odisha about 340 km southwest of Kolkata, has triggered intense rainfall and winds in West Bengal destroying 50 houses in East Midnapore district.
The storm, which made landfall a little after 10 a.m., is likely to enter West Bengal with a wind speed of 90-100 kmph gusting to 115 kmph by Friday midnight or early Saturday, an official said here.
"The intense rainfall and winds have partly destroyed nearly 50 houses. The affected areas include Ramnagar Block 1 and 2, Contai Block, Egra and Nandakumar," East Midnapore District Magistrate Partha Ghosh told IANS over phone.
He said nearly 22,000 people were moved from their houses to ensure their safety. Most of them have gone to their relatives' houses. "About 7,000 people are staying in rescue shelters. We have opened 56 rescue shelters," he added.
According to Ghosh, no casualties have been reported so far. West Midnapore District Magistrate P. Mohan Gandhi mentioned they were assessing the situation and partial damage was reported.
The storm, which has crossed the Odisha coast near Puri, would enter West Bengal as a severe cyclonic storm and the gale would start from Friday evening in the coastal districts, adjacent to neighbouring Odisha, Regional Meteorological Centre's Deputy Director General Sanjib Bandyopadhyay told reporters.
"Extremely severe cyclone Fani crossed the Odisha coast near Puri with the eye of the storm over land, however over the last hour or so the storm has weakened into a severe cyclonic storm.
"It is currently situated at Dhenkanal, north of Cuttack about 340 km southwest of Kolkata and 200 km southwest of the East Midnapore district sea resort Digha. It will move in north-northeast directions to enter the state but continue to weaken during the next 9 hours," he said.
According to Bandyopadhyay, the storm would emerge in Gangetic West Bengal as a severe cyclonic storm with wind speed of 90-100 kmph gusting to 115 kmph and the gale will reach maximum velocity around late midnight or early Saturday morning.
He said the storm would further weaken into a cyclonic storm by afternoon or evening on Sunday and move to Bangladesh with a wind speed of 60-70 kmph.
Rainfall between light to moderate and extremely heavy (20 cm) is likely in some places over Kolkata, East and West Midnapore, Jhargaram, North and South 24 Parganas, Howrah and Hooghly districts.
Heavy to very heavy rain (7-20 cm) is also likely at one or two places over Purulia, Bankura, East and West Burdwan, Burbhum, Murshidabad and Nadia districts.
"The outer ring cloud band has already reached the coastal areas of West Bengal and Kolkata, prompting rainfall. The rain intensity will be gradually increasing. As the cyclone comes closer to Bengal it will have a speed of 80-100 kmph," weatherman J.K. Mukhopadhyay said.
All precautionary measures like flight cancellation at airports, cancellation of trains and water transport services have been taken.
The Director General of Civil Aviation has issued a revised advisory to all airlines to discontinue flight operations from Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport between Friday 3 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m.
In the Shalimar Railway yard, the trains have been tied with heavy chains as a precautionary measure.
In order to tackle any emergency situation, six teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have been deployed in Jhargram district's Sankrail, West Medinipur's Narayangarh Block, in Ramnagar of East Medinipur district, Kakdwip in South 24 Parganas, Dhamakhali and Hasnabad in North 24 Parganas district.
The state government and the Kolkata Municipal Corporation are shifting people living in low lying areas to safer places.
The Kolkata Municipal Corporation also has formed a team comprising the state Police and Disaster Management Authority officials to monitor the measures being initiated.
A toll-free helpline number 1070 is also being circulated for assistance.