by Peerzada Arshad Hamid
NEW DELHI, May 4 (Xinhua) -- The extremely severe cyclonic storm Fani Saturday hit India's eastern state of West Bengal, triggering heavy rains and uprooting trees.
The storm, one of the strongest storms in India after super cyclone of 1999, made landfall in the coastal part of the state hours after making landfall and causing havoc in Odisha on Friday.
Local media reports quoting officials said the death toll in Odisha's Puri town due to cyclone has risen to nine.
"Cyclonic storm Fani has entered West Bengal crossing West Midnapur district, after leaving a trail of destruction in coastal districts of Odisha," an official said.
Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) said the storm has triggered gushing winds.
"Gale wind speed reaching 60-70 kmph gusting to 80 kmph is very likely to prevail over West Bengal districts and adjoining districts of Bangladesh during next six hours. Gale wind speed reaching 45-55 kmph gusting to 65 kmph is also likely along and off the West Bengal coast during the same period," IMD in a statement said.
"Sea conditions are very likely to be rough to very rough along and off West Bengal and adjoining Bangladesh coasts during the next six hours."
A red alert has been issued in coastal areas and fishermen have been asked not to venture into the sea.
Several districts including East and West Midnapore, North and South 24 Parganas, besides Howrah, Hooghly, Jhargram, Kolkata and the Sundarbans are likely to be hit by the storm. Reports pouring in from West Bengal said no loss of life or damage to properties have been reported so far.
Reports said in Odisha, heavy rain and high-velocity winds uprooted trees, swept away thatched huts and snapped power supply in the state.
Fani caused disruption in air and rail traffic in the state.
Officials said the flight movement at Bhubaneswar airport was likely to be resumed on Saturday late afternoon.
The Odisha government said it evacuated over 1.2 million people to camps on higher grounds.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he would visit the cyclone affected Odisha on Monday.
"Day after tomorrow, on the 6th morning, I will be going to Odisha to take stock of the situation arising in the wake of Cyclone Fani," Modi wrote on twitter.
Modi also spoke to the governors of Odisha and West Bengal and discussed the situation prevailing due to Cyclone Fani.
Meanwhile, Assam and some other parts of India's northeast have been witnessing light to moderate rains since Friday morning. Authorities in Assam has put all ferry services in Brahmaputra river on hold for the next two days.
A spokesman of India's National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) said they have pressed in its men in both Odisha and West Bengal into service to clear the uprooted trees and electricity poles from roads.