At least 800,000 people will be moved to safer places by Thursday evening in India, due to Cyclone Fani, classified by the Indian authorities as the equivalent of a Category 3 or 4 hurricane.
It is expected to hit the coast on Friday after churning through the Bay of Bengal with heavy rain and powerful winds. The authorities have been preparing for the storm since Saturday. Tens of millions of people are potentially in the path of what the India Meteorological Department called an “extremely severe cyclonic storm.” Cyclone Fani is forecast to drop as much as eight inches of rain on northern parts of the state of Andhra Pradesh and on the state of Odisha. Major damage and even total destruction in some areas are expected.
Local time is used on the map
The Indian authorities said the storm could be the most powerful to strike India since 1999, when a cyclone killed more than 10,000 people in the same region of eastern India. More than 850 storm shelters have been opened along Odisha’s coast. Tourists have been asked to leave the city of Puri, a Hindu pilgrimage destination on the Bay of Bengal. Officials have now shut down operations at two major ports on the east coast. All schools and universities in the state of Orissa have shut. India's National Disaster Management Authority has also warned people along the rest of India's east coast, especially fishermen, not to go out to sea because the conditions are "phenomenal".