At least three people died yesterday, as Cyclone Fani, the biggest in years, slammed into eastern India, sending coconut trees flying and cutting off power, water and telecommunications, as more than 3.5 million people were moved to shelters.
The monster system made landfall at the holy city of Puri in the morning, with winds gusting up to 205kph.
Authorities in Odisha State, where 10,000 people perished in a 1999 cyclone, evacuated more than 1 million people as they worried about a possible 1.5m storm surge sweeping far inland.
One man died of a heart attack in one of several thousand shelters set up, while another was killed by a falling tree, authorities said.
Media reports put the death toll at up to six, but officials could not confirm this.
Authorities in Bangladesh, where Fani was headed, said that a woman was killed, also by a tree, and that 14 villages were inundated as flood dams broke due to a tidal surge.
Disaster management spokesman Mohammed Jahir said that 400,000 people from Bangladeshi coastal villages have been taken to shelters.
Hundreds of thousands more people in India’s West Bengal State have also been given orders to flee. Local airports have been shut, while train lines and roads were closed.
“It just went dark and then suddenly we could barely see 5m in front of us,” a Puri resident said.
“There were the roadside food carts, store signs all flying by in the air,” the man told reporters from a hotel where he took shelter. “The wind is deafening.”
Another witness said that he saw a small car being blown along a street by the winds and then turned over.
After pounding Puri and Odisha capital Bhubaneswar, and heading northeastward, authorities were battling to remove fallen trees from roads and to restore telephone and Internet services.
Authorities in West Bengal have been evacuating thousands from coastal villages, West Bengal Minister for Disaster Management Javed Ahmed Khan said.
Today, the cyclone is expected to reach Kolkata, a city home to 4.5 million people.
“We are monitoring the situation 24x7 and doing all it takes... Be alert, take care and stay safe for the next two days,” West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee tweeted.
The winds were felt as far away as Mount Everest, with tents blown away at Camp 2 at 6,400m and Nepali authorities cautioning helicopters against flying.
Meteorologists have warned of the “total destruction” of thatched houses, the uprooting of power and communication poles, the “flooding of escape routes” and damage to crops in some areas.
About 3,000 shelters in schools and government buildings were set up to accommodate more than 1 million people in Odisha, with families huddled on the floor.
Ports have been closed, but the Indian navy has sent six warships to the region, while India’s biggest oil and gas producer, ONGC, evacuated almost 500 workers from offshore rigs.
Measures were also being taken to protect the 850-year-old Jagannath temple in Puri.
Electricity and water supplies were already cut for much of the city of 200,000 people.
Additional reporting by Bloomberg
An Australian university student who has never visited China and has only a modest social media following would seem an unlikely target for the Chinese government. However, when a Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman personally denounced Drew Pavlou at a news conference, it was just the next phase in an extraordinary campaign against the 21-year-old that has fueled concerns over China’s targeting of critics overseas. Pavlou first placed himself in the superpower’s sights when in July last year he organized a small sit-in at the University of Queensland, where he studies, to protest against various Chinese government policies. Since then, the Global
‘ASKED TO MOVE OUT’: Indonesian coast guard personnel argued with a Chinese vessel over territorial claims after it entered the country’s exclusive economic zone An Indonesian patrol ship confronted a Chinese coast guard vessel that spent almost three days in waters where Indonesia claims economic rights and that are near the southernmost part of China’s disputed claims to the South China Sea. The Indonesian Maritime Security Agency on Friday night detected Chinese ship 5204 entering Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in what Indonesia calls the North Natuna Sea. The agency sent a patrol ship that closed within 1km of the Chinese coast guard vessel and they communicated to affirm their position and their nation’s claims to the area, Indonesian Maritime Security Agency head Aan Kurnia said. “We
BEFORE WINTER COMES: Snow cuts off roads into Ladakh for four months or more each year, so the crunch is on to get food, tents and high-altitude equipment to Leh From deploying mules to large transport aircraft, the Indian military has activated its entire logistics network to transport supplies to thousands of troops for a harsh winter along a bitterly disputed Himalayan border with China. In the past few months, one of India’s biggest military logistics exercises in years has brought vast quantities of ammunition, equipment, fuel, winter supplies and food into Ladakh, a region bordering Tibet that India administers as a union territory, officials said. The move was triggered by a border standoff with China in the snow deserts of Ladakh that began in May and escalated in June into hand-to-hand
Since her personal telephone number was posted online, Hong Kong democracy advocate and Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions chairperson Carol Ng has received menacing calls from strangers and been bombarded with messages calling her a “cockroach.” She is not alone. A sophisticated and shady Web site called HK Leaks has ramped up its “doxxing” — where people’s personal details are published online — of Hong Kong democracy advocates, targeting those it says have broken Hong Kong’s National Security Law. Promoted by groups linked to the Chinese Chinese Communist Party and hosted on Russia-based servers, HK Leaks has become the most prominent “doxxing”