- Cyclone Fani is barreling toward India’s eastern coast with winds of up to 150 mph. The Category 4 cyclone is expected to make landfall near the state of Odisha on Friday.
- The severe cyclone intensified on Thursday, prompting officials to accelerate evacuation efforts across India’s northeastern coastline.
- Nearly one million people on India’s east coast are fleeing their homes in the country’s largest natural-disaster evacuation.
- The cyclone is expected to be the worst the country has seen since 1999, when a supercyclone killed about 10,000 people in Odisha.
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It’s the largest evacuation ahead of a national disaster in India’s history.
While the country and its citizens are no strangers to an annual cyclone season (much like hurricane season in the Atlantic), a severe tropical cyclone named Fani is shaping up to be one of the worst storms India’s seen in two decades.
It’s expected to make landfall on Friday morning near Puri, in the state of Odisha, with heavy rainfall and winds of up to 150 mph, according to the US Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center.
According to the India Meteorological Department, Fani has been classified as an “extremely severe cyclonic storm,” with conditions akin to a Category 4 hurricane.
Millions of people live in Fani’s projected path, prompting Indian authorities to call for an evacuation of the country’s entire eastern seaboard as the storm barrels north in the Bay of Bengal.
India’s special relief commissioner told the Press Trust of India news agency that tourists had been asked to leave Puri, a popular beach town, by Thursday night as part of the evacuation.
Officials have opened more than 800 shelters and are ready to airdrop 100,000 dry-food packets.
Officials say Fani could be the worst storm since 1999, when a cyclone killed about 10,000 people and devastated large parts of the state.
Last week, Tropical Cyclone Kenneth ripped through northern Mozambique as the strongest tropical cyclone to ever make landfall in the country. It made landfall with the same strength that officials anticipate for Fani.