Cyclone 'Fani' barrelled through Odisha on Friday, unleashing copious rain and windstorm that gusted up to 175 kmph, killing at least eight people, blowing away thatched houses, and swamping towns and villages, officials said.
The extremely severe cyclonic storm 'Fani' or the 'Hood ofSnake' made landfall around 8 a.M. In Puri, with roaring winds flattening huts,enveloping the pilgrim town in sheets of rain, and submerging homes.
Though the 'extremely severe' cyclone unexpectedly weakenedinto 'very severe' cyclonic storm in a matter of few hours, it left a trail ofdevastation in large parts of coastal Odisha, with the seaside pilgrim town ofPuri being the worst hit.
At least eight people have been reported dead so far, seniorofficials said, adding information was still awaited from many areas.
While three people, including a teenage boy, were reportedkilled in Puri district, three perished in Bhubaneswar and nearby areas. Flyingdebris from a concrete structure fatally struck a woman in Nayagarh. An elderlywoman died of heart attack at a relief shelter in Kendrapara district, officialsources said.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who reviewed the situation,said Puri district, particularly the holy town where the cyclone first hit theland mass, suffered huge damage. "Energy infrastructure has beencompletely destroyed. Restoration of electricity is a challenging task,"he said.
Hundreds of engineers and technicians were working on awar-footing to restore power supply.
Work is on to restore road communication, thrown intodisarray with thousands of uprooted trees blocking the way in innumerableplaces, Patnaik said.
The cyclonic system, whose eye is around 28 km wide, movedat around 30 kmph, Director of the Meteorological Centre in Bhubaneswar, H RBiswas said soon after Fani made the landfall.
But within the system, the winds reached speeds of up to 175kilometers per hour that gusted up to 200 kmph, leaving in their wake uprootedtrees and thatched structures, including in the state capital Bhubaneswar.
National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) DIG Randeep Ranasaid not many casualties were reported so far as precautionary measures were inplace.The chief minister said nearly 12 lakh peoplewere evacuated and shifted to safer locations within 24 hours ahead of thecyclone from about 10,000 villages and 52 urban agglomerations in probably thelargest such exercise at the time of a natural calamity in the country.