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Armed forces on alert as Odisha braces for cyclonic storm 'Fani'

Bhubaneswar: Defence forces are on high alert, educational institutions ordered shut and thousands in coastal districts being evacuated as Odisha braces for cyclone 'Fani', the extremely severe cyclonic storm that is likely to make landfall near Puri on Friday.

According to the latest forecast by the Joint Typhoon Warning Centre (JWTC), Fani, the most severe cyclonic storm since the super cyclone of 1999 that claimed close to 10,000 lives and devastated large parts of Odisha, is expected to cross the holy town of Jagannath Puri May 3 afternoon, packing winds up to 175 KMPH before the landfall. The storm over the Bay of Bengal centred about 660 km south-south west of Puri was ominously rolling towards the Odisha coast at a speed of 14 KM per hour.

Official sources said Navy, Indian Air Force and Coast Guard have been put on high alert to meet any eventuality. Personnel of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF) and fire service have been deployed in vulnerable areas to assist the civil administration.

The collectors of coastal and southern districts have been asked to complete the evacuation exercise from low lying areas by Thursday evening keeping in mind the forecast of massive tides that could surge up to 1.5 metres during the landfall, Special Relief Commissioner B P Sethi said.

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