Cyclone Fani hits coast of eastern India with 124 mph gusts

One million people were evacuated along the low-lying coast before the storm made landfall.
Image: An abandoned house and trees bend with gusty winds ahead off the landfall of cyclone Fani on the outskirts of Puri, in the Indian state of Odisha
Trees bend in Puri, India, before Cyclone Fani made landfall.AP

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By Reuters

BHUBANESHWAR, India — A powerful cyclone lashed coastal areas of eastern India on Friday with torrential rain and winds gusting up to 124 mph.

Having spent days building up power in the northern reaches of the Bay of Bengal, tropical Cyclone Fani finally struck the coast of Odisha state at around 8 a.m. local time (10:30 p.m. ET on Thursday), the state-run India Meteorological Department said.

A bulletin released Friday morning said the "extremely severe" cyclone weakened into a "very severe" cyclone.

One million people were evacuated along the low-lying coast before the cyclone made landfall.

Around 37 miles inland, high winds uprooted trees and electricity poles in the state capital, Bhubaneshwar, where authorities had ordered the airport to stay closed.

On India's cyclone scale, Fani is the second-most severe, equivalent to a Category 3 hurricane.

Stranded passengers rest inside a railway station after trains between Kolkata and Odisha were cancelled ahead of Cyclone Fani.Rupak De Chowdhuri / Reuters

India's cyclone season can last from April to December, when severe storms batter coastal cities and cause widespread deaths and damage to crops and property in both India and neighboring Bangladesh.

Technological advancements have helped meteorologists to predict weather patterns well in advance, and authorities have become far better at preparing for the ferocious storms and reducing casualties.

Associated Press contributed.