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Cyclone Fani death toll reaches nearly 30 in India and Bangladesh

By Renee Duff, AccuWeather meteorologist
By Brett Rathbun, AccuWeather meteorologist
May 04, 2019, 10:30:44 AM EDT


Cyclone Fani, one of the strongest storms to strike India in the last 20 years, made landfall early Friday morning, local time, pummeling the country's east coast with the equivalent force of a Category 3 hurricane. Fani is being blamed for at least 28 fatalities, according to Al Jazeera.

A spokesperson with India’s government reported “extensive damage” to houses, old buildings and temporary shops in Puri, a city located in the state of Odisha, according to Asian News International (ANI), as well as a complete loss of power to the area. Officials had been concerned about the welfare of the city's 858-year-old Jagannath temple during Fani's onslaught, according to BBC News. India’s National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and state forces worked to clear roads blocked off by downed trees left behind by Fani’s strong winds.

Fani makes landfall across eastern India

Fani crossed the Odisha coast, close to Puri, between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. local time Friday, thus making it an official landfall, the India Meteorological Department said.

(AP Photo)

A destroyed fuel filing station by cyclone Fani after its landfall is seen on the outskirts of Puri, in the Indian state of Odisha, Friday, May 3, 2019.

(AP Photo)

Street shops are seen collapsed due to gusty winds preceding the landfall of cyclone Fani on the outskirts of Puri, in the Indian state of Odisha, Friday, May 3, 2019.

(Twitter photo/@vbroutray)

A native of Puri, India, rides through his hometown during the evening hours after Fani inflicted damage upon the area.

(Twitter photo/@Odisha_Police)

Cuttack, India, has taken a pounding from Fani, which left several trees uprooted in the area. Local police officials work to remove downed trees from blocked roads on May 3, 2019.

(Twitter photo/@vbroutray)

A native of Puri, India, rides through his hometown during the evening hours after Fani inflicted damage upon the area.

(STR/AP)

Damaged signage lies on a street in Puri district after Cyclone Fani hit the coastal eastern state of Odisha, India, Friday, May 3, 2019.

(Twitter photo/@vbroutray)

A native of Puri, India, rides through his hometown during the evening hours after Fani inflicted damage upon the area.

(STR/AP)

Damaged structures and uprooted tress lie along a road in Puri district after Cyclone Fani hit the coastal eastern state of Odisha, India, Friday, May 3, 2019.

(Twitter photo/@DCP_Cuttack)

A downed tree blocks off a road in Cuttack, India, on May 3, 2019.

(Twitter photo/@pattaprateek)

A resident of Bhubaneswar, India, took this image from his apartment's balcony during impacts from Fani on May 3, 2019. "Nothing is visible beyond a few meters now," Prateek Pattanaik tweeted.

(AP Photo)

An abandoned house and trees bend with gusty winds ahead of the landfall of cyclone Fani on the outskirts of Puri, in the Indian state of Odisha, Friday, May 3, 2019.

(AP Photo)

Street shops are seen collapsed due to gusty winds ahead of the landfall of cyclone Fani on the outskirts of Puri, in the Indian state of Odisha, Friday, May 3, 2019.

(AP Photo)

Villagers move to safer places amidst gusty winds ahead of the landfall of cyclone Fani on the outskirts of Puri, in the Indian state of Odisha, Friday, May 3, 2019.

(Twitter photo/@pattaprateek)

A resident of Bhubaneswar, India, took this image from his apartment's balcony during impacts from Fani on May 3, 2019.

(NOAA)

The NOAA 20 satellite captured this image of an enormous and powerful Cyclone Fani churning over the Bay of Bengal on April 30, 2019, as it barreled toward India's east coast.

(Image/NOAA/RAMMB)

Fani bearing down on eastern India early Friday, May 3, 2019.

(AP Photo/Bikas Das)

Stewardess and stranded passengers wait outside the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose international airport after all flights were suspended following cyclone Fani landfall in eastern coast, in Kolkata, India, Friday, May 3, 2019.


At landfall, Fani was classified as an extremely severe cyclonic storm with winds of 180-190 km/h (112-118 mph) with gusts to 200 km/h (124 mph), which is equal to a Category 3 hurricane in the Atlantic or East Pacific oceans.

It has since been downgraded to a tropical depression. However, dangerous impacts still persist.

Fani is the strongest cyclone this early in the year in the North Indian Ocean since Cyclone Nargis in 2008, according to Phil Klotzbach of Colorado State University.



The sky darkened ahead of the ferocious storm's landfall, turning surrounding coastal areas into an apocalyptic scene. Once on land, the storm's fierce winds tore the roofs off many buildings and sent numerous trees toppling to the ground. Videos on social media showed a large crane being blown over in Bhubaneswar.

It is a “very, very scary feeling,” Tanmay Das, a 40-year-old resident told the Associated Press. Das described the sound of wind "as if it will blow you away.”

The Bhubaneswar Airport recorded a wind gust of 130 km/h (81 mph) Friday morning, local time.


Impacts from the storm are being felt as far away as Mount Everest. The AP reported some mountaineers and Sherpa guides were descending to lower camps as weather worsened at higher elevations. Nepal's government issued a warning for heavy snowfall in higher mountain areas, while rain and storms were expected in lower elevations.

About 20 tents were blown off the side of the mountain, Agency France-Presse reported.

"Very strong winds blew the tents off the mountain but no one was hurt," Ishwori Poudel, general secretary of the Expedition Operators Association, told AFP.

At the height of the storm, one woman gave birth at a hospital in Bhubaneswar. She delivered about an hour after the storm made landfall and reportedly gave the baby girl an apt name: Fani. According to Zee News, this is the first child for the 32-year-old woman, who is a worker for East Coast Railway, which shared a photo of the newborn from the delivery room.


Government preparation in advance of Fani

Over 1 million people were evacuated ahead of the cyclone's strike on the eastern India coastline. One government official said the evacuation effort is the largest in the nation's history, according to the AP. Nearly 100,000 of those evacuated are from the Puri alone.

Indian prime minister - Fani prep meeting

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with cabinet officials Thursday as the powerful cyclone loomed off the country's east coast. (Twitter/Narendra Modi)


Officials have opened more than 850 shelters which are believed to hold around one million people. Schools and universities have been closed in advance of the approaching storm. Prime Minister Narendra met with officials from his administration on Thursday to discuss storm preparations and, in a message posted on Twitter, offered "prayers for the safety and well being of our citizens."

In anticipation of Fani's arrival, operations at Paradip Port in Odisha were suspended beginning on Wednesday night, in a cascade of extraordinary safety measures. Kolkata airport will be closed until 8 a.m. Saturday, local time, Doordarshan News reported, and more than 100 trains have been canceled and two more diverted due to Fani, according to India Today.

The storm struck the county while the nation is in the middle of a six-week general election. Some political parties were forced to cancel events, the AP said.

Officials planned to evacuate 2.1 million people before Fani slammed into Bangladesh.

Fani to bring heavy, flooding rain to North East India this weekend

Fani lost some wind intensity prior to landfall, but it is expected to remain a dangerous storm as it spreads heavy rain across North East India into Sunday.

During this time, life-threatening flooding is still possible along with an elevated risk for mudslides across the rugged terrain of the region.

Fani 5/4


Rainfall amounts of 150-300 mm (6-12 inches) are expected through Sunday.

The hardest-hit locations could have an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 500 mm (20 inches).

RELATED:
India Weather Center
Interactive India weather satellite
Indian Ocean Tropical Cyclone Center

Download the free AccuWeather App to get the latest forecast on Cyclone Fani's impact in your area.

AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Eric Leister and Staff Writer Kevin Byrne contributed to this article.

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