Cyclone Fani ravaged vast areas of coastal Odisha on Friday, leaving behind a trail that was as bad as the 1999 super cyclone and very little information flowing from districts left everyone, including the government, virtually groping on the extent of damage even till date.
Nobody could even zero in on the wind speed after Fani hit close to Puri on Friday at around 8 am and battered Puri, Bhubaneswar, Khurda for over four hours relentlessly. While one version said the wind speed was around 175 km per hour, the other said the wind speed ranged between 200 and 240 km per hour.
Puri, Bhubaneswar, and Jagatsinghpur plunged into darkness in the true sense as there was absolutely no connectivity – phone, electricity, internet – all dead and restoration a gigantic task for all concerned.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit Odisha on Monday.
Unofficial sources said at least 16 people were killed in the cyclone.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik undertook an aerial survey of the cyclone-affected areas.
Puri and Bhubaneswar were the worst hit.
It is one of the rarest of rare summer cyclones, the first one in 43 years to hit Odisha, noted CM Patnaik.
He announced 15-day free cooked food as part of relief to the affected people.
A record 1.2 million people were evacuated in 24 hours time which is one of the biggest human evacuations in history, said the CM.
At least 2000 emergency workers, youth clubs and others were engaged along with the ODRAF, NDRF, and about one lakh officials.
The CM said Fani had landfall in Puri with a wind speed of more than 200 km per hour and gusting speed of 240 km per hour.
It tore apart critical infrastructure, especially power, telecom and water supply. Almost entire tree cover in Puri and Bhubaneswar was uprooted, blocking roads.
Electricity infrastructure and telecommunication infrastructure has been devastated.
Districts of Cuttack, Bhadrak, Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur, Balasore, Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar, Dhenkanal, Nayagada have also been affected and details of damage are still awaited, said official sources.
At least 30 lakh electricity consumers are affected and we will be able to restore power to at least 10 lakh consumers by Sunday evening, said the officials.
There is no contact with districts and damage assessment is difficult, he added.