India’s east coast yesterday braced for a cyclone covering half the size of the country, with tens of thousands of residents in low-lying areas fleeing their homes after authorities forecast a risk to life and extensive damage once the storm hits land.
Satellite images showed Cyclone Phailin 500km off the coast in the Bay of Bengal and likely to make landfall tonight. Some forecasters likened its size and intensity to that of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the US Gulf Coast and New Orleans in 2005.
The Indian Meteorological Department described Phailin as a “very severe cyclonic storm” with wind speeds of 210 to 220kph and said it would hit between Kalingapatnam and the major port of Paradip in Odisha state. The US Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center predicted gusts of up to 305kph.
“We plan to evacuate about 100,000 families in Ganjam District by tomorrow morning,” Odisha’s Special Relief Commissioner Pradeep Kumar Mohapatra said.
State authorities said 5,000 families had already moved into shelters and schools. Shelters were being stocked with rations, and leave for government employees was canceled.
The government broadcast cyclone warnings through loudspeakers and on radio and television as the first winds were felt on the coast and in the state capital, Bhubaneswar. People living in thatched houses in low-lying areas were told to move to cyclone shelters, high-rise buildings and other safer places.
Residents reported 3.5m waves, but fishermen hoped the storm would pass over and were reluctant to leave their boats.
Helicopters were on standby in neighboring West Bengal, ready to drop food packets into isolated areas, officials said.
Indian authorities warned of extensive damage to crops, village dwellings and old buildings, as well as disruption of power, water and rail services.
“Within 12 hours of cyclone strike we will try to clear all the roads. Within 24 hours we will try to restore water supply and electricity,” Mohapatra said.
Meanwhile, Typhoon Nari also gained strength as it swept toward the Philippines yesterday, prompting warnings of more brutal weather for tens of millions of people living around the flood-prone capital.
Nari forced US Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday to cancel a visit to Manila, and weather forecasters said it had since been upgraded from a tropical storm to a typhoon as its wind gusts increased to 160kph.
Nari was expected to hit farming regions on the east coast of the main island of Luzon late last night, with “heavy to intense” rain forecast across its 500km-wide footprint, the state weather service said.
Manila is about 135km south of where the eye of the storm is expected to make landfall, and government weather forecaster Bernie Belen said the capital would likely again endure floods.
“Even without a storm, heavy rains can cause floods in Manila. How much more when there is a typhoon?” Belen said.
Heavy rains are expected to persist across much of the main island of Luzon throughout today as Nari travels west, before blowing out into the South China Sea in the evening.
BUYING TIME: Russia is estimated to have suffered over 100,000 casualties in its push to capture the strategically insignificant town, giving Ukraine time to ready its troops Whether Bakhmut has fallen or not, Moscow is being pulled deeper into an ever more costly fight for the frontline city as Kyiv readies a major offensive, experts said. Russia’s claim to have conquered the destroyed city, which Ukraine rejected on Sunday, does not mean significant new terrain from which to launch attacks nor harden defenses. However, Moscow has made the eastern city’s capture a key aim and has fought the war’s longest battle, as well as one of its deadliest, to try to win what it would like to bill as a significant success. US President Joe Biden, speaking from the G7
DEEPFAKE: Using AI to change their face and voice, a fraudster convinced a businessman that they were his friend and needed 4.3 million yuan for a public tender A scammer in China used artificial intelligence (AI) to pose as a businessman’s trusted friend and convince him to hand over millions of yuan, authorities have said. The victim, surnamed Guo, received a video call last month from a person who looked and sounded like a close friend. However, the caller was actually a con artist “using smart AI technology to change their face” and voice, said an article published on Monday by a media portal associated with the government in Fuzhou City. The scammer was “masquerading as [Guo’s] good friend and perpetrating fraud,” the article said. Guo was persuaded to transfer 4.3
A Malaysian comedian better known for mocking attempts by Western chefs at Asian cooking has had his Chinese social media account suspended after making jokes about China. Nigel Ng (黃瑾瑜), who uses the name Uncle Roger, is the latest comedian to feel the consequences of jokes that could be perceived as reflecting negatively on China under increasingly intense censorship and rising nationalism. Last week, a Chinese comedian came under police investigation for a joke about stray dogs. Ng on Thursday posted a video clip from an upcoming comedy special in which he pokes fun at Chinese surveillance and Beijing’s claims of sovereignty over
Gunmen in Ecuador opened fire in a restaurant in a beach town popular with tourists, killing at least six people and wounding six more, prosecutors said on Sunday. The attack happened on Saturday night in a busy nightlife area of the town of Montanita on the Pacific coast, the prosecutors’ office said on Twitter. It gave no information on the age or identity of the people who were shot. Located between Colombia and Peru, the world’s top producers of cocaine, Ecuador is weathering the biggest surge in crime in its recent history. Crime linked to drug trafficking caused the murder rate to almost double