Hundreds of thousands evacuated in India ahead of downpour, 200km/h winds

The cyclone tracking to the east of India on Wednesday.
The cyclone tracking to the east of India on Wednesday. Photo credit:

India is using boats, buses and trains to evacuate 800,000 people along its east coast ahead of an approaching cyclone forecast to make landfall within 24 hours.

Severe Cyclonic Storm Fani was centred in the west of the Bay of Bengal, the India Meteorological Office said on Thursday.

The south coast of Odisha state was also expected to get heavy to very heavy rainfall, it said in a bulletin.

The state-run weather office also forecast winds gusting up to 200 km/h by Friday.

Cyclone tracker Tropical Storm Risk rated Fani a mid-range category 3 storm.

About 800,000 people were expected to be evacuated from low-lying areas of 14 districts in Odisha to cyclone shelters, safer schools and college buildings, a government statement said.

"We are maximising efforts at all levels for evacuation for the time being," Odisha's Special Relief Commissioner Bishnupada Sethi told Reuters.

Tourists have also been advised to leave coastal towns in West Bengal and Odisha.

Sea conditions were also likely to be very rough off the coast of the southeastern states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh and federally administered Puducherry, the weather office said.

India's cyclone season generally lasts from April to December, with severe storms leading to the evacuation of tens of thousands of people, widespread deaths and damage to crops and property in India and Bangladesh.