Large scale measures in Bengal as Fani approaches 

Trains, flights cancelled

 A view of the storm induced due to the landfall of Cyclone Fani in Odisha, along the coastal area of Digha, in West Midnapore district of West Bengal on Friday. PTI photo

After battering Odisha, the severe cyclonic storm Fani has weakened and moved towards West Bengal, and is expected to hit the West Bengal coasts early on today morning. Spells of heavy rains were witnessed in Kolkata.

Several coastal areas of the state, mainly Digha and Haldia in East Medinipur district, have witnessed stormy winds and heavy rainfall. Other coastal areas such as Fraserganj also witnessed gusty winds. Two or three house were damaged, but no casualties were reported till 11 pm on Friday.

A late night bulletin issued by the Regional Meteorological Centre, Kolkata said the storm was located 210 km southwest of the city.

“It is very likely to continue to move north-northeastwards during next 12 hours and emerge into Gangetic West Bengal with wind speed of 80-90 kmph gusting to 105 kmph by early morning of 4th May,” said the bulletin, adding that the cyclone will enter Bangladesh on Saturday evening.

“The calamity will be over by May 5,” said an official of the Regional Meteorological Centre in Kolkata. The storm is expected to affect the districts of East and West Medinipur, Howrah, Jhargram, Hooghly, North and South 24 Paraganas and Sunderbans. More than 10,000 people have been shifted to storm shelters.

Large-scale preparations were made by the West Bengal government, and a red alert has been issued in the coastal districts. The Kolkata Airport has been shut from 3 pm on Friday till 8 am on Saturday. Dozens of local and express trains have been cancelled.

Two major shopping malls in Kolkata have shut down since Friday afternoon. Kolkata Police has opened a control room to keep track of the situation. The state government has suspended classes in all schools from Friday and has cancelled the leaves of doctors and other health department staff.

Owners of Tower 42, an under-construction skyscraper touted to be the tallest building in the country, were instructed to remove cranes from the spot.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee cancelled her political programmes for 48 hours and was monitoring the situation from Kharagpur town in West Medinipur. She appealed to people to cooperate, be alert and stay safe.

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