Rescue operations continued for the third day to evacuate 40 workers still trapped inside an under-construction tunnel that collapsed on Sunday.
Union Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu on Thursday requested airline operators to extend all help in rescue and relief operations as Cyclone Fani continued its northward approach towards Odisha coast.
“All airlines are requested to offer all assistance for rescue and relief operations in view of cyclonic storm Fani. All relief material should be airlifted to be delivered to officially designated agencies,” he said.
The Minister said that a control room is being set up.
GoAir flights in and out from Bhubaneswar Airport (BBI) have been cancelled for 3 May 2019. The cyclone is likely to cross between Gopalpur and Chandbali in Odisha on Friday.
Cyclone Fani which has turned into an ‘extremely severe’ cyclonic storm is about 450 km from the Odisha coast and is moving northwards with a speed of 5 kms per hour.
The cyclone, which has a wind speed of up to 200 km per hour is located around 225 kms south-southeast of Visakhapatnam.
The Odisha government has already directed officers across 11 coastal districts to evacuate people from low lying areas.
A total of eight lakh people are to be evacuated and provided shelter at the cyclone shelters, schools and other safe places, said Special Relief Commissioner Bishnupada Sethi.
The evacuation will be completed by Thursday evening, he informed while adding that dry food, gen sets, fuel and all other necessary material have been stocked at the shelters.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had on Wednesday reviewed the cyclone preparedness with the officials and said, “Every life is precious, so I have directed the administration to ensure 100 per cent evacuation in the vulnerable areas.”
A series of trains to and from Odisha’s coastal areas have been cancelled in anticipation of the cyclone.
Personnel of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF) and fire service have been deployed in vulnerable areas in the districts likely to be affected by the cyclone.
All 28 teams of NDRF, 20 ODRAF units and other fire service units have been dispatched to areas on a priority basis.
Meanwhile, Andhra Pradesh CM N Chandrababu Naidu conducted a review meeting on Fani today.
“If necessary I would visit cyclone affected regions in state. I have written a letter to Election Commission seeking exemption from election code of conduct to monitor the situation during cyclones,” he said following the meeting.
On the other hand, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday chaired a high-level meeting to review preparedness for the cyclonic storm.
The meeting was attended by Cabinet Secretary, the Principal Secretary to the PM, the Additional Principal Secretary to the PM, the Home Secretary, and other senior officials from the IMD, NDRF, NDMA and PMO.
After reviewing the emerging situation, PM Modi instructed senior officers of the Union Government to maintain close coordination with officers of the affected states, to ensure preventive measures and also to take effective steps for relief and rescue operations as required.
India Navy, Indian Air Force and Coast Guard have been put on high alert to meet any eventuality due to the cyclone.