Cyclonic storm 'Fani' that has become "extremely severe" is set to make landfall in Odisha on Friday morning in between 8-10 am with speed of gusting 180-200 kmph, affecting about 10,000 villages, even as the government agencies have asserted to be prepared with disaster management measures.
The Indian Meteorological Department on Thursday said 'Fani' was about 80 km south of Puri at 5.30 p.m. on Friday morning, and it would hit the Odisha coast between Gopalpur and Chandbali around Puri. Later, it is predicted to move towards West Bengal with wind speeds of 115 kmph.
Storm surge of about 1.5 metres height above astronomical tide is very likely to inundate low lying areas of Ganjam, Khurda, Puri and Jagatsinghpur districts of Odisha at the time of landfall.
'Fani' is "very likely" to move further north-north-eastwards and emerge into Bangladesh on Saturday evening, the IMD said.
Light to moderate rainfall with heavy to extremely heavy falls at isolated locations is expected in north Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Odisha till Friday.
Rains are also likely in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Mizoram and Nagaland with chances of heavy falls at certain locations on Saturday and Sunday.
The sea condition is phenomenal over the west-central Bay of Bengal, off the north Andhra Pradesh coast till Friday and over north-west Bay of Bengal off Odisha and West Bengal till Saturday.
The IMD said sea conditions are "very likely to be very rough" to high off north Tamilnadu, Puducherry, along with south Andhra Pradesh coasts till Friday.
Fishermen have been advised not to venture into deep sea areas.
It warned that the cyclone is likely to cause damages to all types of houses, communication and power poles, road and rail infrastructure.
Extensive damages to standing crops, plantations and blowing down of coconut and palm trees are also feared besides chances of ships and large boats getting torn from their moorings.
Cabinet Secretary P. K. Sinha held a meeting of the National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) again on Thursday to take stock of the situation, and reviewed the preparedness with the affected states, as per an official statement.
The Odisha government said that around 900 cyclone shelters have been made ready to house the evacuees.
"It is estimated that a total of 11.5 lakh people will have to be moved to safer areas, of which about 3.3 lakh people have already been evacuated," a statement said.
"Arrangements have been made to warn people of the impending cyclone through announcements over public address systems, mass SMS and local media."
Teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF) have been put in place.
Sinha directed establishment of a central toll-free helpline for the general public and asked the Central ministries to set up control rooms to coordinate rescue and relief operations.
Reviewing the preparedness of the states and central agencies, he said that all necessary measures must be taken to prevent any loss of life and to keep in readiness essential supplies including food, drinking water and medicines.
The Civil Aviation Ministry informed that flight operations from Bhubaneswar were suspended from midnight of Thursday, while operations from Kolkata airport also will remain suspended from Friday morning until conditions improve.
The railways have already suspended operations of trains in Odisha and all trains in Bhadrak-Vizianagaram section (of the Kolkata-Chennai route) has been cancelled till Saturday. A total of 140 trains including 83 passenger trains have been cancelled so far.
The Indian Coast Guard and the Navy have deployed ships and helicopters for relief and rescue operations while the Army and Air Force units in these states have also been put on standby.