Remaining on course, ‘extremely severe’ cyclonic storm Fani hit India’s east coast near the temple town of Puri in the state of Odisha on Friday morning just past 8 am.
Heavy rain and strong winds lashed Odisha and parts of the neighbouring state of Andhra Pradesh.
A wind speed of 145 km per hour was recorded, according to the India Meteorology Department (IMD).
At 11.30 am, IMD said, Fani weakened into ‘very severe cyclonic storm” about 10 km east of Odisha’s capital city Bhubaneswar.
The Met Office said Fani would move in a North/North East direction and weaken to a ‘severe cyclonic storm’ over the next six hours.
The weather department had earlier revised its forecast to state that Fani would hit coastal Odisha near Puri between 8 am and 10 am today, much earlier than previously forecast.
Initially, landfall was forecast for around 5.30 pm. This was revised to between 10 am and 12 noon and then advanced by another two hours to between 8-10 am.
The Odisha government had targeted to evacuate over 1.1 million people from low lying areas along 11 coastal districts by Friday morning.
But with Fani gathering speed, travelling at 12 km per hour over open sea, the administration raced against time and had moved 6,00,000 residents to safer places and cyclone shelters by late evening Thursday itself.
The state government and disaster mitigation agencies are on the job as relief and rescue operations are in full operational mode.
All flights to and from Bhubaneswar have been cancelled for 24 hours starting from the May 3 midnight, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said.
It also issued an advance order to cancel all flights to and from Kolkata, capital of the state of West Bengal where the full impact of Fani is expected to be felt only by early Friday evening, between 9.30 pm on Friday and 6 pm on Saturday.
In Bangladesh, at least 10 villages in the coastal district of Patuakhali were flooded after two dams were damaged on Friday morning due to the impact of Cyclone Fani.
Around 35,250 people were moved to different cyclone centres in the coastal district.
Khulna and adjoining southwestern districts of Bangladesh, which have been witnessing the effects of Fani since Friday morning, are expected to be hit with full force by midnight.
In Patuakhali, eight villages in Lalua and two in Dhulashal were flooded due to the tidal surge of the Andarmanik river.
Around 950 residents of these two villages and another 2,500 people from a village in the neighbouring sub-division were evacuated to cyclone centres.
Additionally, around 8,500 people from the Rangabali sub-division were taken to safer places by Friday noon.
Around 300 residents were evacuated in Barishal.
In the Rajshahi district, local administration on Friday morning began a massive campaign to evacuate residents of low-lying areas and prevent extensive damage to property.
The signals at Mongla and Payra ports have been raised to danger level 7.
Danger signal 7 also has been hoisted across the coastal lines of Patuakhali, Bhola, Borguna, Barishal, Pirojpur Jhalakathi, Bagerhat, Khulna and Satkhira.
Chattogram (Chittagong) port has been asked to hoist danger signal 6.
Signal 6 also has been hoisted in Noakhali, Laxmipur, Feni and Chandpur.