Cyclone Fani, which entered West Bengal on the intervening night of Friday and Saturday, poses no threat to the state anymore, a senior weather department official told PTI on Saturday. The “extremely severe cyclonic storm” had made landfall in Odisha on Friday morning, but weakened significantly after that. Twelve people have died in Odisha so far.
The storm weakened into a deep depression before entering Bangladesh, said regional Meteorological Centre’s Deputy Director General Sanjib Bandyopadhyay. “It is very likely to move northeastwards, weaken further into a depression over Bangladesh during next six hours,” the Met department said in its 9.30 am bulletin.
The storm uprooted trees and heavy rainfall lashed in parts of West Bengal on Saturday morning, according to NDTV, but the damage was minimal. Parts of Kolkata and the suburbs have received moderate to heavy rain since Friday afternoon. The storm uprooted trees, destroyed at least 12 houses and damaged infrastructure in many areas, leaving them without any electricity, reported ABP Ananda. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee told the channel that the state had been spared the worst of the storm.
According to the meteorological department, the “extremely severe cyclonic storm” relatively weakened after entering coastal Odisha and weakened into a “very severe” cyclone as it approached West Bengal. “The severe cyclonic storm Fani entered Bengal at 12.30 am through Odisha’s Balasore,” IANS quoted Sanjib Bandyopadhyay as saying. “It crossed Kharagpur packing a wind of 70 to 80 kmph, gusting to 90 kmph.”
In the morning, the storm was close to Arambagh in Hooghly district and 40 km west of Kolkata. “It is likely to continue further in north, north-east direction, and reach east Burdwan-Hooghly border, and through Nadia go to Bangladesh on Saturday afternoon, weakening into a cyclonic storm, after having triggered rains,” Bandyopadhyay had said then.
The cyclone swept through cities and towns in coastal areas including Digha, Mandarmani, Tajpur, Sandehskhali and Contai while the effects of the storm could also be felt in cities such as Kharagpur and Burdwan. The administration in some districts switched off electricity as a precaution.
The weather is likely to start improving in West Bengal by Saturday evening. The India Meteorological Department, however, has warned North Eastern states to be on alert as the cyclone may enter the region after crossing Bangladesh.
Randeep Kumar Rana, the deputy inspector general of National Disaster Response Force, also said that the cyclone did not cause much damage in West Bengal, ANI reported. The situation was under control, he added. Operations at the Kolkata airport resumed around 10 am on Saturday, according to News18.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and other political leaders cancelled rallies in the state as the cyclone approached. Banerjee had earlier asked people to stay indoors on Saturday.
Toll rises to 12 in Odisha
In Odisha, the storm killed at least 12 people, according to officials who launched a massive restoration and relief work on Saturday across 10,000 villages and urban areas, PTI reported. The cyclone caused extensive damage to telecommunications and power infrastructure in Puri, Bhubaneswar and some other areas of the state, the Centre said.
Rail and air connectivity to the state is getting restored on Saturday. The Eastern Naval Command of the Indian Navy has launched a massive rescue and rehabilitation effort in Odisha.
Four of the deaths occurred in Baripada town in Mayurbhanj district, said emergency officer SK Pati.
The airport at Bhubaneswar resumed operations on Saturday evening, according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Civil Aviation. The airport suffered extensive damage in the storm, including damage to the roof and facade of the passenger terminal, and the roof of the Air Traffic Control tower.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had said on Friday that around 12 lakh people had been evacuated from vulnerable areas over 24 hours before the cyclone’s arrival.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, meanwhile, said he had spoken to Patnaik and the governors of Odisha and West Bengal, Ganeshi Lal and Keshari Nath Tripathi, and assured the states of the Centre’s support.
The Jharkhand government had also issued an advisory on Friday, asking all district deputy commissioners to set up control rooms in the wake of the cyclone, reported PTI. The advisory warned that rains accompanied by strong winds was likely in all 24 districts of the state on May 4.