Furious ‘Fani’ poised to hit

Cyclone Fani, which turned into a “very severe cyclonic storm”, is likely to make landfall in India’s Odisha this afternoon and affect southwestern Bangladesh.

Coastal districts in Bangladesh’s southwest are feared to be affected by the “peripheral” effect of Fani, which means “snake” in Bangla.

“We think, the cyclone will start crossing Bangladesh tomorrow evening [this evening] and remain in the country’s territory until Saturday morning,” said Shamsuddin Ahmed, director Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD), adding that this was not certain as the cyclone could change its course.

The Met office has asked Mongla and Payra port authorities to hoist “danger signal-7”, which means a storm with wind speeds between 62kph and 88kph is likely to pass over or near the area.

Chittagong Port was asked to hoist “danger signal-6”, which is a less severe warning.

Last night, the wind speed within 74km from the eye of the storm was between 160kph and 180kph.

The cyclone is likely to cause five- to six-feet high storm surges, the Met office said.

Following an inter-ministry meeting at the secretariat, the government decided to move people living in risky areas of 19 coastal districts to 4,071 cyclone shelters by today.

“We will start evacuating people from risky areas at 10:00am tomorrow [today],” said Md Sha Kamal, senior secretary of the disaster management and relief ministry.

Disaster management and relief ministry also opened a hotline (1090) for any information regarding the storm.

The government has cancelled holidays of all government officials posted in the 19 coastal districts and also opened control rooms there to respond to emergencies.

Under the influence of Fani and the new moon phase, the low-lying areas of Chattogram, Noakhali, Laxmipur, Feni, Chandpur, Barguna, Bhola, Patuakhali, Khulna, Barishal, Pirojpur, Jhalakathi, Bagerhat, Khulna, Satkhira and their off-shore islands are likely to be inundated, the Met office said.