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South Asia Top Stories

India evacuates 800,000 people before severe storm

BHUBANESHWAR, INDIA: The Indian authorities have evacuated around 800,000 people along the northeast coastline ahead of a severe cyclone due to make landfall on Friday.

Severe cyclone Fani was lying in the Bay of Bengal about 420 kilometres (260 miles) south-southwest of Puri town where special trains were ready to evacuate tourists and the locals. Puri is home to Shree Jagannath, one of Hinduism’s holiest temples. Millions of pilgrims visit temple each year. The government has advised the pilgrims to leave the town and reschedule any non-essential travel in the region.

The state relief department confirmed that 780,000 people have been shifted to safer places from at least 13 districts of Odisha state. Odisha will bear the brunt of the powerful cyclone.

Operations at two major ports, Paradip and Visakhapatnamon, have also been shut down and ships have been ordered to leave the area to avoid damage. Cyclone tracker Tropical Storm Risk (TSR) rated Fani a mid-range category 3 storm.

Some 1,000 shelters have been set up in schools and government building to accommodate more than a million people. In Paradip, residents piled bicycles, sewing machines and gas cylinders onto small trucks and left for shelters. These shelters have been supplied with food, water and medicines. Arrangements have already been made for food, safe drinking water, lighting and sanitation

The neighbouring coastal states of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu have also been put on high alert. Government has also advised tourists to leave coastal towns in West Bengal and Odisha.

Storms regularly hit eastern and southeastern parts of India between April and December. In 2017, 250 people were killed and 600 went missing when Cyclone Ockhi hit Tamil Nadu and Kerala states. In October 2018, Odisha had to evacuate 300,000 people when Cyclone Titli hit its coastal districts with winds up to 150 kilometres per hour and heavy rains.

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