Monster Cyclone in India Prompts the Biggest Evacuation in the Country's History

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Tourists have also been urged to leave coastal towns in West Bengal and Odisha, where heavy to very heavy rainfall is forecast along the south coast on Thursday, Sky News reported.

The extremely severe cyclone, dubbed "Fani", is pummeling the Bay of Bengal and is projected to make landfall by Thursday night with approximately 120 miles per hour (190 km/h) winds, with gusts up to 130 miles per hour (210 km/h), according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD). In addition, breakdown vans and relief trains have been kept ready to cater to areas likely to be affected by the cyclone in the two states, the official said. "We are fully prepared.Hope there will be no casualty", Disaster Management minister Enamur Rahman told reporters after the meeting.

Meanwhile, the severe cyclonic storm Fani that is expected to ravage the coasts has triggered country-wide panic which has led the Indian Railways to cancel 81 trains including three in the Northeast.

Storm surge of about 1.5 meter height above astronomical tide is "very likely" to inundate low lying areas of Ganjam, Khurda, Puri and Jagatsinghpur districts of Odisha at the time of landfall.

The NDRF is deploying 41 teams in Andhra Pradesh (8), Odisha (28) and West Bengal (5) for prepositioning.

"He (the chief minister) emphasised that special care should be taken to safely evacuate pregnant women, children, old and differently abled from vulnerable areas", his office said Twitter.

The extremely severe cyclonic storm which lays over Bay of Bengal, as per the bulletin, is at about 610 kilometers (kms) south-southwest of Puri and 360 kms south-southeast of Vishakhapatnam. Forecast models suggest Fani will likely maintain its strength as it nears the coast.

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It is likely to move north-northeastwards and cross the Odisha coast near Puri on May 3 evening with maximum sustained wind speed of 170-180 kmph and gusting up to 200 kmph, Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) B P Sethi said.

Authorities have also put the Indian navy on high alert.

Authorities have asked tourists to avoid unnecessary travel.

In a Tweet, Indian airline Vistara, a joint venture of India's Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines, said it would waive cancellation charges for its flights to Odisha's capital, Bhubaneswar, and Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal, until Sunday.

Bhubaneswar: Odisha government has ordered closure of all educational institutions in the state from May 2 in view of the impending Cyclonic Storm "Fani".

"Fani is expected to remain a unsafe cyclone as it makes landfall along the coast of eastern India during the early morning to midday hours of Friday", according to AccuWeather.com. "While crossing the shore, the cyclone is expected to cause heavy rainfall and strong winds (60-70 kmph) in several across the Vizag district".

"They are being told what to take with them if they leave and the precautions they need to take if they stay", said Ameya Patnaik, assistant commandant for the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) in Odisha.

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