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Cyclone Fani: More than a million people evacuated as the storm makes landfall in eastern India

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 Cyclone Fani: More than a million people evacuated as the storm makes landfall in eastern India
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REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri - REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri
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A tropical cyclone has made landfall in eastern India today. A massive operation to evacuate more than a million people to safety from low-lying areas in Orissa state has been put in place. According to the authorities, cyclone shelters are being set up and major ports are being shut down, flights have been cancelled and several schools were shut.

Winds of up to 180 km per hour have been recorded in the town of Puri and officials say there are no reported casualties at the moment. Flooding has been reported in many areas of Orissa state as well as fallen trees and destroyed roofs on buildings. Orissa and neighbouring states are still on high alert.

The cyclone, which has been named Fani, has hit one of the most densely populated areas of India and some of its rural areas are still cut off. Local governments have been allowed by the electoral commission to spend money in their areas, even though they are in the middle of an election. Normally during elections, Indian local governments have their budgets frozen in accordance with electoral rules.

The India Navy has placed ships on stand by near the affected areas and the military have also made personnel available to help with the evacuation efforts.

The situation is still very fragile and the worry is that the cyclone reaches Cox’s Bazar - where massive refugee camps house millions of displaced people in neighbouring Bangladesh. Authorities at Cox’s Bazar have said they are preparing ahead of the storm.

Watch an interview with UK journalist Ned Donovan from The Mail of Sunday, speaking from India, in the video player above.