Railways has cancelled at least 103 trains in light of cyclone “Fani”, which is likely to affect 19 districts of Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal, besides Kolkata.
Some of the trains which have been cancelled include Howrah-Chennai Central Coromandal Express, Patna-Eranakulam Express, New Delhi-Bhubaneswar Rajdhani Express, Howrah-Hyderabad East Coast Express, Bhubaneswar-Rameswaram Express.
The railways said that it will grant full refund to passengers for the cancelled or diverted trains if the tickets are produced within three days from scheduled date of journey.
Cyclone “Fani” itensified into a very severe cyclonic storm on Tuesday, and is likely to hit the Odisha coast between Puri and Kendrapara by tomorrow.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) said cyclonic “Fani” is likely to make landfall at Odisha coast between Gopalpur and Chandbali.
Evacuations have begun on a war footing in the coastal districts of Puri, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Bhadrak, Balasore, Mayurbhanj, Gajapati, Ganjam, Khordha, Cuttack and Jajpur.
All schools and colleges will be closed for the next three days in Odisha. Over 8 lakh people in the coastal districts are being evacuated, said government officials.
Around 900 cyclone shelters have been prepared to house evacuees while troops of the Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard and 78 teams of the National Disaster response Force (NDRF) have been requisitioned for deployment.
Odisha, which has a population of around 46 million, has already voted in India’s ongoing election, which started on April 11.
The seventh and final phase of voting will be held on May 19, with counting and results due May 23.
Odisha had to evacuate some 300,000 people last October when its coastal districts were battered by cyclone Titli, with winds up to 150 kms (95 miles) per hour and heavy rains.
Storms regularly hit eastern and southeastern India between April and December. In 2017, Cyclone Ockhi left nearly 250 people dead in Tamil Nadu and Kerala states.
Odisha’s worst-ever cyclone, in 1999, killed over 10,000 people.