Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday chaired a high-level meeting to review preparedness a day before Cyclone Fani is likely to make landfall. The authorities concerned apprised Modi of the cyclone’s scheduled path and the measures undertaken and planned to minimise damage caused by the storm.

Modi has directed senior officials to coordinate with their counterparts in the affected states to ensure quick and effective relief and rescue operations. Measures discussed include water and food provisions, deployment of teams from National Disaster Response Force and the armed forces and standby systems to restore power and telecom services, PTI reported.

81 NDRF teams deployed

National Disaster Response Force chief SN Pradhan said that more than 4,000 specialised personnel in 81 NDRF teams have been deployed to parts of Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal ahead of the storm. Pradhan said that around 50 teams have been positioned in the coastal areas of Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal and another 31 teams have been kept on standby.

The official said a deputy inspector general and a commandant-rank officer have also been assigned the responsibility to monitor the rescue and relief teams in Odisha’s capital Bhubaneswar and Puri. He said NDRF teams have also been kept on alert in Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

A massive operation was launched in Odisha on Thursday to evacuate over eight lakh people from low-lying coastal areas as Cyclone Fani moved closer to the eastern coast. This is reportedly the largest-ever evacuation operation in the country.

Cyclone Fani, classified as an “extremely severe cyclonic storm”, is likely to cross the Odisha coast between Gopalpur and Chandbali on Friday afternoon with wind speed of 170 to 180 km per hour gusting up to 200 km per hour, according to the 11.30 am bulletin released on Thursday by the India Meteorological Department. The cyclone lies about 385 km south-southwest of Puri and 200 km south-southeast of Visakhapatnam.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik reviewed measures undertaken ahead of the storm’s landfall. “Administration is fully geared to handle the situation,” Patnaik tweeted.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu also conducted a review meeting on his state’s preparedness for the cyclone, ANI reported. “If necessary I will visit cyclone affected regions in state,” Naidu said. “I have written a letter to Election Commission seeking exemption from election code of conduct to monitor the situation during cyclones.”

Union Minister of Civil Aviation Suresh Prabhu said he has alerted all authorities concerned at coastal airports to take the necessary precautions. The minister said a control room is being set up.

“The situation will be monitored at highest level,” Prabhu said. “All airlines are requested to offer all assistance for rescue and relief operations in view of Cyclone storm Fani. All relief material should be airlifted to be delivered to officially designated agencies.”

GoAir cancelled on flights travelling to and from Bubhaneshwar for May 3, ANI reported.