Cyclone Fani strengthens, could batter south Bengal

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Kolkata, May 1 (IANS) In wake of Cyclone Fani gradually gaining strength, weather officials on Wednesday warned of destruction of thatched houses, roads, and crops in eight districts of West Bengal and advised people be evacuated from coastal areas.

“There can be total destruction of thatched houses/extensive damage to kutcha (mud) houses, some damage to pucca (permanent) houses. There is a potential threat from flying objects,” the Regional Meteorological Centre here said in a special bulletin.

Also, power and communication poles can be uprooted, kutcha and pucca roads can be damaged, railways can be disrupted and there can be widespread damage to standing crops and plantations, it said.

The warning has been issued for the districts including East and West Medinipur, Jhargram, South and North 24 Parganas, Howrah, Hooghly and Kolkata.

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The special bulletin also suggested “extensive evacuation from coastal areas of East Midnapore, North and South 24 Parganas districts”.

The bulletin also directed that fishing operations be totally suspended and said the movement of motor boats and small ships is not advisable. People in the areas which may be affected have been advised to remain indoors.

The cyclone is now lying around 1,040 km away from Kolkata.

“It is very likely to move northwestwards during next 12 hours and thereafter recurve north-northeastwards and cross the Odisha Coast between Gopalpur and Chandbali, around Puri during May 3 afternoon with maximum sustained wind of speed 170-180 kmph gusting to 200 kmph,” the weathermen predicted.

Heavy (7-20 cm) rainfall is on the cards for East Midnapore and West Midnapore, Jhargram, Kolkata, North 24 Parganas and South 24 Parganas, Howrah and Hooghly districts on May 3.

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On May 4, there can be extremely heavy (over 20cm) rainfall in Kolkata, North and South 24 Parganas, Howrah, Hooghly, East and West Midnapore, Jhargaram, Purulia, Bankura, East and West Burdwan, Burbhum, Murshidabad and Nadia districts of Gangetic West Bengal.

“Gale wind speed reaching 90-100 gusting to 115 kmph are very likely over along and off West Bengal coast from early morning for subsequent 12 hours and decrease thereafter,” the weather office added.

The East Midnapore district administration has been asked to take all preventive measures and maintain a strong vigil on the Digha, Mandarmani and other beaches so as to stop visitors from bathing on the three days on the turbulent sea.

–IANS

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