Terrifying footage shows a 130mph cyclone slamming into India today in a ferocious storm which has forced more than a million people to flee their homes.
Cyclone Fani ripped into the country’s east coast on Friday morning, tearing down trees, blowing away food stands and cutting off power and water.
Experts fear rising sea levels could cause a five-foot storm surge in Odisha, where the storm made landfall today and where 10,000 people died in a 1999 storm.
It is expected to barrel into West Bengal state and towards Bangladesh on a trajectory which will take it over the homes of 100million people.
Ferocious: Trees bend in the huge winds of Cyclone Fani as rain batters an abandoned home on the outskirts of Puri, after the storm made landfall on India’s east coast this morning
Footage shows trees bending violently in the wind and debris flying across roads as people struggled to stay upright.
Wind and rain were seen lashing into abandoned homes while street stands had completely toppled over.
Some 3,000 shelters in schools and government buildings have been set up to accommodate more than a million people in Odisha.
Ports have been closed but the Indian Navy has sent six warships to the region while India’s biggest oil and gas producer ONGC evacuated almost 500 workers from offshore rigs.
Meteorologists have warned of the ‘total destruction’ of thatched houses, the uprooting of power and communication poles.
They also predicted the ‘flooding of escape routes’ and damage to crops in some areas.
Measures were also being taken to protect the eight-and-a-half-century old Jagannath temple in the city.
Desolate: A motorcyclist braves gusty winds just before the landfall of cyclone Fani, which could reach 125mph winds, on the outskirts of Puri
Collapsed: A street stand is toppled over in the winds as Indian authorities evacuate the homes of more than a million people amid the storm
Devastation: Street shops are seen collapsed while trees are blown ferociously in the winds of Cyclone Fani
The storm made landfall in Hindu holy town of Puri, a major tourist destination on the coast that attracts millions of visitors every year.
More than 100,000 dry food packets are ready to be dropped if needed, reports said.
Flights have been cancelled in and out of Odisha’s capital Bhubaneswar and Kolkata in West Bengal until at least Saturday.
Electricity and water supplies were already cut for much of the city of 200,000 people.
India’s National Disaster Response Force shared images of several uprooted trees along the coast in Andhra Pradesh state to the south.
The NDRF teams were trying to remove the fallen trees and branches to ensure they do not become projectiles if the winds intensify.
Refuge: People evacuated for safety rest in a temporary cyclone relief shelter in Puri in the eastern Indian state of Odisha today
Rush for safety: Villagers look to take cover on a road on the outskirts of Puri as the cyclone hits amid fears it will cause a deadly storm surge
In Bangladesh, disaster management chief Mohammad Hashim said that more than 4,000 cyclone shelters have been opened in 19 coastal districts.
The country’s weather bureau has told deep-sea fishing vessels to stay near the coast, while inland water transport activities were suspended.
Media reports said hundreds of trees were uprooted at Chilika Lake just south of Puri in the first violent winds.
Metal shutters covered store fronts and sand blew up the streets from the nearby beach.
But a few thousand are known to have defied the evacuation orders in Puri. Some took shelter in local schools and hotels.
Threat: A satellite image from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Tropical Cyclone Fani intensifying in the Bay of Bengal yesterday
Keep low: An Indian farmer lies on the road after falling while crossing the road due to gusty winds
Krishna Chandra Sahu, 43, took seven members of his family to a city hotel to ride out the storm.
‘We didn’t feel our home was safe so we came here,’ he told AFP.
‘We will just stay for the day until the cyclone has passed. We are not scared but we feel safer here.’
Experts fear the cyclone could cause sea levels to rise and bring about a storm surge, sending a destructive wall of water gushing over the land.
Storm surge is not the result of rainfall or flooding, rather it happens when powerful winds push ocean water rushing toward land.
Destruction: A fuel filling station which was in the path of Cyclone Fani is seen wrecked on Friday following the storm’s impact
Looming disaster: Menacing clouds hang above Visakhapatnam, India, on Thursday ahead of the storm’s landfall on Friday morning
Surges can extend for dozens of miles inland, overwhelming buildings quickly and cutting off roads. People can end up drowning in their cars or homes.
Indian forecasters said a five-foot surge could hit the east coast, which is vulnerable to destructive storms.
India’s east coast is vulnerable to destructive storms.
In 2017 Cyclone Ockhi left nearly 250 people dead and more than 600 missing in Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
The 1999 storm wreaked $4.5 billion worth of damage, as well as taking 10,000 lives.