Tropical Cyclone "Fani" death toll hits 64, now the deadliest cyclone since 1999 Super Cyclone, India

Tropical Cyclone

The death toll caused by Tropical Cyclone "Fani" which made landfall May 3, 2019, in the Indian state of Odisha rose to 64, government sources confirmed Sunday, May 13. This made it the deadliest cyclone to hit India since 1999 Super Cyclone.

The special relief commissioner’s situation report confirmed Sunday that 39 people died in Puri district alone. This is 18 more than what the government had declared earlier, the Times of India reports.

Out of the 64 people dead, 25 died due to wall collapse, 20 were crushed by uprooted trees, electric poles and hoardings, and 6 died after being buried under collapsed roofs. The cause of 13 other deaths is yet to be ascertained.

This makes Fani the deadliest cyclone to hit the state after the 1999 Super Cyclone, which killed an estimated 10 405.

Although Fani was comparable to the 1999 cyclone, Odisha was ready this time thanks to improved forecasting models, intense public awareness campaigns and well-drilled evacuation plans.

Fani made landfall close to the city of Puri, Odisha between 02:30 - 04:30 UTC (08:00 - 10:00 LT) on Friday, May 3, 2019 as Extremely Severe Cyclonic Storm with winds between 180 - 190 km/h (112 - 118 mph) and gusts to 200 km/h (124 mph). This made it a Category 3 hurricane equivalent on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale and one of the strongest cyclones to hit India in 20 years.

The timing of such a powerful storm is unusual, IMD said. Over the past 50 years, nearly 60% of extremely severe cyclones made landfall between October and December.

Fani forced India to conduct one of the biggest human evacuations in history - more than 1.2 million in India in 24 hours and another million in Bangladesh.

Nearly 3 million people were left without power in different parts of Odisha.

Officials said a large number of animals were killed by the storm, forcing them to deploy veterinary teams to dispose of the dead bodies.

Eastern Naval Command of the Indian Navy launched massive rescue and rehabilitation effort across the state, home to 46 million people.

An estimated 152 985 ha (378 034 acres) of crops were damaged or destroyed in Odisha alone.

Fani entered Bangladesh on May 4 as a deep depression, leaving at least 14 people killed and more than 50 injured. 

It damaged about 63 063 hectares (155 832 acres) of crops, mostly paddy, maize, vegetables and jute.

Agriculture Minister said 13 631 farmers in 25 districts suffered losses, more than half of the country, adding that government is providing seeds, fertilizer and cash.

Featured image credit: TOI/Twitter

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