Oxfam is getting ready to respond with food, clean water, shelter and hygiene kits to help cyclone-battered communities along India’s eastern coast after powerful Cyclone Fani slammed into the country on Friday.
Cyclone Fani is the strongest cyclonic storm since the Super Cyclone of 1999, which claimed close to 10,000 lives.
At least three people were killed on Friday when the cyclone impacted the Odisha coast, with that number expected to rise.
Communities along the Odisha coastline and in districts within Orissa, one of India’s poorest states, were expected to be among the worst hit by the powerful cyclone, which brought with it wind speeds of up to 200km/h when it made landfall Friday morning.
Since then Cyclone Fani had been moving towards West Bengal and was likely to impact districts in Orissa on Saturday before weakening slightly as it moved north-north eastwards, Oxfam Australia’s humanitarian manager Meg Quartermaine said.
“While the full scale of the crisis is still unfolding, we know many people have lost their homes and livelihoods and damage to infrastructure could be significant,” Ms Quartermaine said.
“The power supply in many parts of Odisha including its capital, Bhubaneshwar, has been cut off from uprooted electricity poles and trees and this is likely to make matters worse.”
Ms Quartermaine said Oxfam and its partners were closely monitoring the situation and had an emergency response team ready to distribute water, sanitation aid and temporary shelter materials in the coastal areas.
“We know Cyclone Fani blasted the Odisha coast for 30 hours and that according to the government, more than 10,000 villages and about 50 towns in Odisha are likely to be affected.
“We also know the Indian Government’s decision to evacuate about 800,000 people from low-lying areas in Odisha was a timely response that no doubt has saved many lives.
“Assessments of needs in Odisha will be carried out as soon as possible.”
Donations to Oxfam’s emergency work can be made online.
Interviews with in-country spokespersons in India available later today, please contact Renee Thompson on 0418 873 782 or firstname.lastname@example.org