Rare Summer Cyclone Fani Sweeps Across India and Bangladesh
A powerful and rare summer cyclone tore through parts of India and Bangladesh this past weekend, killing at least 34 people in India and 15 in Bangladesh. 2.7 million people were evacuated from their homes in anticipation of Cyclone Fani.
India’s Meteorological Department classified Cyclone Fani as “extremely severe” before it made landfall in India on Friday night. Cyclone Fani brought heavy rains to India’s coastal area and winds of up to 127 miles per hour, before weakening as it approached Bangladesh.
“Cyclone Fani is one of the rarest of rare summer cyclones to hit Odisha in 43 years. It is also one of three to hit in the last 150 years,” stated Navin Patnaik, Odisha’s top elected official. Typically, the season for tropical cyclones lasts between April to December, peaking in May and November, in India’s Bay of Bengal region.
The cyclone caused fewer casualties in the South Asian subcontinent than previous storms of similar strength have, according to the Associated Press. The Associated Press noted that preparation for Cyclone Fani “demonstrated greatly improved disaster readiness since 1999 when a ‘super’ cyclone killed about 10,000 people.”
Denis McClean, a spokesperson for the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (ODRR) praised India’s efforts to minimize the devastation of Cyclone Fani at a news briefing, stating: “They seem to have done a very good job in terms of minimizing the possibility for loss of life.”
G.M. Abdul Quader, the joint secretary of Bangladesh’s Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief, discussed his country’s aggressive preparation for the storm. “We were all working day and night,” Quader stated. “We had little chance to go home and sleep.”
More than 1 million people were evacuated from approximately 15,000 villages and 46 towns in Odisha, according to NPR. 1.6 million people were evacuated in Bangladesh, and “thousands” of people in Bangladesh took to the streets before the storm with megaphones to warn people to leave their homes. Most Indian and Bangladeshi residents have returned to their homes since the passing of the cyclone.
Exact damage caused by Cyclone Fani has not been estimated yet. However, the state of Odisha in India was hit hardest by the storm, with hundreds of thousands of people losing electricity for multiple days. Authorities canceled 287 trains passing through the areas hit by the storm. According to Indian Railways, train services will resume normal hours of operation on May 10. The wreckage is still impacting millions of people in both India and Bangladesh, with entire villages relying on external assistance in Cyclone Fani’s aftermath.