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Cyclone Fani ravages Odisha, kills 8

Bhubaneswar/ Amaravati: Eight people were killed in separate incidents as cyclone Fani battered the Odisha coast Friday, officials said. A teenager was killed when a tree came crashing down on him at a place within Sakhigopal police station area limits in Puri district.

Flying debris from a concrete structure hit a woman in Nayagarh district when she had gone to fetch water, killing her. In Debendranarayanpur village in Kendrapara district, a 65-year-old woman died after suspected heart attack at a cyclone shelter, official information reaching here said.

Fani, an extremely severe cyclonic storm lashed the Odisha coast Friday morning, uprooting trees, blowing away thatched huts, and disrupting communication links.

Rains lashed parts of Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh as a fall out of 'Fani' but no human casualties were reported, officials said. Nine head of cattle and 12 sheep were killed in rain-related incidents, while over 2,000 electricity poles were uprooted because of high velocity winds and 218 cellular phone towers damaged, they said.

The extremely severe cyclonic storm made landfall at around 8 a.m. in Puri but thanks to enough advance warning, about 11 lakh people had already been evacuated from vulnerable and low-lying areas of at least 11 coastal districts of Odisha by Thursday.

The Andhra Pradesh government's Real-Time Governance Centre, which tracked the cyclone's movement round-the-clock for the last two days and predicted the exact landfall at Puri, came in for praise from the Odisha government.

Odisha government officials called RTGC Chief Executive Officer Babu Ahamed over phone Friday and thanked him for constantly updating them about Fanis movement. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu told reporters that the precise movement of the cyclonic storm could be predicted by the RTGC.

"The Odisha government was all praise for our RTGC as it delivered valuable information about the storm. The damage could be minimised because of the accurate warnings and also loss of human life averted," he said.

The Election Commission of India, in response to a letter written by the state Chief Electoral Officer Gopal Krishna Dwivedi, relaxed the provisions of the Model Code of Conduct in Srikakulam, Vizianagaram, Visakhapatnam and East Godavari districts in view of the cyclone threat. The exemption granted by the ECI was to take necessary relief measures in view of Fani.

Srikakulam district collector J Nivas directed officials to remain alert as there was a likelihood of floods in Bahuda and Vamsadhara rivers because of heavy rains in Odisha.

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