16 people across Odisha have been killed in the cyclone Fani due to wall collapse, falling of trees and flying debris. But officials said the death toll may go up as rescuers are unable to reach several places of the coastal districts which are still inaccessible.
“Till now we are unable to reach disconnected blocks like Krushnsprasad, Bramhagiri and Astaranga. Though we have managed to somehow clear the national highway connecting Bhubaneswar and the roads in the town, many interior roads are still inaccessible. We have pressed NDRF and ODRAF teams for the job. We have opened around 25 free kitchens in the town,” said Puri district collector Jyoti Prakash Das.
Officials said it would take at least a week to restore power supply in the temple town.
In Kashiharipur village on Bhubaneswar-Puri national highway, housewife Pushpalata Patra said she is at her wits end on how to feed her kids.
In Ramchandi sahi slum of Puri, 55-year-old Sushmita Sahu too was distressed over her next meal after she discovered the 10 kg of rice that she stored had turned soggy.
Chief minister Naveen Patnaik said his government was trying hard to help people in the aftermath of the cyclone, but conceded that the challenge was huge.
“Fani is one of the rarest of rare cyclones – the first to hit in 43 years and one of three to hit in 150 years. Because of the rarity, the prediction and tracking of the cyclone was challenging. In 24 hours, one was not sure of the trajectory it was going to take. Fani after landfall, tore apart the infrastructure, especially power, telecom and water supply, ” said Patnaik, adding that the districts of Cuttack, Bhadrak, Kendrapada, Jagatsinghpur, Balasore, Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar, Dhenkanal, Nayagarh have also been affected.
In the meteorological centre of Puri, weather officials said Fani was possibly as strong as 1999 super cyclone. “The anemometer in our centre broke after clocking gusts of 148 knots (274 km per hour). This was the strongest cyclone I have ever experienced in my life,” said Hrusikesh Panda, the officer in charge of the weather office.
In Bhubaneswar, the East Coast Railway officials resumed operations on Saturday by running three special trains including one to Bangalore. The Airports Authority of India resumed operations in the afternoon.
Odisha energy secretary Hemant Sharma said 10,000 electric poles in Bhubaneswar have been completely damaged affecting 30 lakh consumers. Electricity supply will be restored in 25 per cent area of the Capital city, he said. The electric poles and uprooted trees have brought traffic to a standstill on several national and state highways.
The fishing community in Puri too has been hit badly. In Balinolia sahi, the fishermen were glum over their overturned boats.