Cyclone Fani makes landfall in Odisha
Makeshift camps containing hundreds of thousands of displaced Rohingya refugees along the Bangladesh-Myanmar border could face "massive destruction" from Tropical Cyclone Fani, an aid organization has warned.
Bangladesh, a low-lying country, typically suffers flooding and damage from strong winds when tropical cyclones hit, with ramshackle conditions in the refugee camps placing residents at particular risk.
Zia Choudhury, Bangladesh director for aid organization CARE, said the group was preparing "to respond fast" to potential storm damage.
"The worst scenario will see massive destruction of homes, buildings, roads, electric lines, crops and more. Despite the high level of expertise the government and NGOs have in preparing and responding to crises, the real concern this year is for the Rohingya refugees. Over one million people living in flimsy shelters, densely packed into a very fragile, hilly, exposed area. We are expecting destruction of shelters, injuries and landslides," Choudhury said.
The Indian Meteorological Department said the eye of Tropical Cyclone Fani is completely over land.
The first images have emerged of Tropical Cyclone Fani hitting the coastal city of Puri on Friday morning local time, with sustained winds of 240 kilometers per hour (150 mph).
It's the storm equivalent to a super typhoon or Category 4 hurricane.
All flights to and from Bhubaneswar airport in the eastern state of Odisha were canceled from midnight on Thursday. Kolkata airport will cancel flights from 9:30 p.m. local time Friday, according to India's Ministry of Civil Aviation.
About 10,000 villages and 52 towns in nine districts in the eastern state of Odisha are in the direct line of Tropical Cyclone Fani.
India has classified Fani as an "extremely severe cyclonic storm" and deployed ships and helicopters for relief and rescue operations. Army and air force units have also been put on standby in Odisha, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh states.
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Fani is expected to bring large storm surges and significant wind damage near the landfall location in the eastern state of Odisha. Inland flooding is also a major threat.
Parts of eastern India and Bangladesh can expect up to 300 millimeters (12 inches) of rain.
Low-lying river deltas of northeastern India are particularly vulnerable to storm-surge flooding.
The office for Odisha's chief minister tweeted that more than 1 million people had been evacuated from vulnerable areas across the state.
More than 900 cyclone shelters have been set up to house evacuees.
What is expected to be India's strongest tropical cyclone to make landfall in 20 years slammed into the country's east coast Friday, with officials evacuating about 1 million people.
The season doesn't have a defined start and end like the Atlantic hurricane season, but it does have two main periods of activity: late April to early June, and October to November.
These two periods are before and immediately after India's southwest monsoon season. That season lasts from June through September and provides India with the vast majority of its annual rainfall.
Tropical cyclone activity during the monsoon season is extremely rare because the monsoon is characterized by high wind shear, making it difficult for tropical storms to form.
Tropical Cyclone Fani made landfall near Puri, in the Indian state of Odisha, about 9:30 a.m. local time (12 a.m. ET) on Friday.
Fani brought sustained winds of 240 kilometers per hour (149 mph) -- the equivalent of a super typhoon or Category 4 hurricane.
It is the strongest storm to hit India since 1999.