April 30, 2019 / 5:39 AM / 3 months ago

Cyclone Fani expected to intensify as it heads toward eastern India

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Cyclone Fani is expected to intensify into an “extremely severe” storm as it heads toward the coast of the eastern Indian state of Odisha, the India Meteorological Office said on Tuesday.

The storm is currently in the Bay of Bengal about 690 km (414 miles) east-southeast of Chennai and moved north-northwest at a speed of 16 km per hour (10 miles per hour) over the past six hours, the office said.

Fani is generating maximum sustained winds of 85 knots, or about 157 kph (98 mph), according to a storm advisory from the U.S. Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

The India Meteorological Office has forecast heavy rainfall in Odisha and in some parts of the state of Andhra Pradesh in the next few days.

The Odisha state government has asked officials to be alert and evacuate people if the storm intensifies and makes landfall in the state, Bishnupada Sethi, the state’s special relief commissioner, told Reuters.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked his officials and the National Crisis Management Committee to stay in touch with the states at risk from Cyclone Fani, a government statement said.

Separately, the weather office also forecast thunder squalls over the state of Tamil Nadu and the federally administered area of Puducherry over the next five days.

At least 60 people were killed in lightning strikes and by collapsing houses during a thunderstorm across northern and western India earlier this month.

Reporting by Neha Dasgupta; additional reporting by Jatindra Dash in BHUBANESWAR; editing by Christian Schmollinger

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