India: Cyclone Fani To Strike Odisha Today, Over 1 Million People Evacuated

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

Cyclone Fani to strike Odisha today, over 1 million people evacuated

As the cyclone progresses into West Bengal, it should weaken gradually into a severe cyclonic storm with winds of 90-100 kph and gusts of 115 kph before entering Bangladesh as a cyclonic storm on Saturday evening with winds of 60-70 kph.

INDIA Updated: May 03, 2019 08:03 IST

HT Correspondents and Agencies
HT Correspondents and Agencies
Bhubaneswar/Kolkata
Fani,cyclone Fani,Odisha
Puri: Villagers at the beach as dark clouds hover above the sea ahead of cyclone ‘Fani’, in Puri.(PTI)

An “extremely severe” cyclonic storm that is likely to make landfall south of Puri on Friday has put Odisha on high alert and prompted authorities in West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh to take precautionary measures.

On Thursday, the Odisha government conveyed to the National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC), the country’s top body for handling emergency situations, that 10,000 villages and 52 towns in nine districts will be affected due to Cyclone Fani , a home ministry statement said after a meeting of the NCMC, which was headed by cabinet secretary PK Sinha.

Flight operations from Bhubaneswar remained suspended from Thursday midnight and from Kolkata from Friday morning, with the cyclone — packing winds gusting up to 200 kilometres per hour and torrential rains — approaching India’s eastern coast. Services will be resumed as soon the conditions improve. The railways has already suspended operations of trains in Odisha, the home ministry statement said.

As the cyclone progresses into West Bengal, it should weaken gradually into a severe cyclonic storm with winds of 90-100 kph and gusts of 115 kph before entering Bangladesh as a cyclonic storm on Saturday evening with winds of 60-70 kph.

A total of 1.1 million people in Odisha were moved to safer areas and the state has advised the public to remain indoor on Friday. Around 900 cyclone shelters have been made ready.

The storm is likely to impact Odisha’s coastal districts Ganjam, Gajapati, Khurda, Puri, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Bhadrak, Jajpur and Balasore. In West Bengal, it will affect the districts of East and West Medinipur, South- and North-24 Parganas, Howrah, Hooghly, Jhargram as well as Kolkata.

In Andhra Pradesh, the cyclone is likely to hit Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam districts.

The power ministry has made arrangements to restore supply in affected areas with least downtime. The drinking water and sanitation ministry has made arrangements to move additional water supplies in the affected areas and is keeping in readiness packaged drinking water.

The ministry of food processing industries is keeping in readiness packaged ready-to-eat food. The health ministry has mobilised emergency medical teams, medicines and also coordinated with the Red Cross to provide assistance. It has kept ready 17 public health response teams and five quick response medical teams with emergency drugs.

The department of telecommunication has issued orders to all operators to allow free SMS for cyclone-related messages and inter-operability of mobile networks by other operators. The petroleum ministry has ensured availability of sufficient petroleum and oil in the affected areas.

The Indian Coast Guard and the Indian Navy have deployed ships and helicopters for relief and rescue operations while the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force units in the three states have also been put on standby.

The ministry of shipping has disengaged all ships at Paradip Port and has deployed emergency vessels

The railways on Thursday said around 102 trains have been cancelled in the last two days, while three special trains pressed into service to ferry stranded passengers from affected areas.Four trains have been diverted, it said.

The national transporter said it will grant full refund to passengers for the cancelled or diverted trains if tickets are produced for cancellation within three days from the scheduled date of journey. The railways had announced cancellation of 81 trains on Wednesday. So far, the railways has announced three tourist special trains to ferry passengers from affected areas.

The national transporter has also instructed that sufficient amount of cash be made available at major stations for granting refunds to passengers and meeting other exigencies. Frontline staff are to be advised to be extremely polite while dealing with passengers and leaving no scope for complaint, it added.

“Emergency control is to be operated round the clock with helpline numbers for guiding passengers. No staff are to be allowed to go on leave for the next three days,” the railways said.

In West Bengal capital Kolkata, authorities directed advertisers to take down all hoardings in the city. Hotel owners in tourist spots along the Bengal coastline such as Digha, Mandarmani, Tajpur and Shankarpur fear a loss of business. Digha, West Bengal’s most popular beach resort, is about 342km east of Puri, and close to the Odisha border.

“There are about 650 hotels in the area that attracts average footfalls of about 0.2 million people every day. Even if you consider them spending Rs 600 per head a day, the direct loss of business is at least Rs 12 crore a day,” said Bipradas Chakrabarti, secretary of the Digha Shankarpur Hoteliers Association.

First Published: May 03, 2019 02:26 IST

Mother Teresa To Be ‘Declared’ A Saint Tomorrow

(This article is courtesy of the BBC Europe news agency)

Mother Teresa: The humble sophisticate

  • 1 hour ago
  • From the sectionEurope
Mother TeresaImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Mother Teresa, who died in Kolkata, India, 19 years ago, will be formally declared a Saint of the Catholic Church by Pope Francis at a Vatican ceremony on Sunday. David Willey, who has reported from Rome for the BBC during five decades, tells how he once spent an hour sitting and talking informally with the new saint in an unlikely setting, the arrivals hall at Rome’s Fiumicino airport.

I immediately understood that the woman already known as the “Saint of the Slums” of Kolkata was at the same time a very humble and simple caring person and a sophisticated international traveller.

She constantly jetted around the world, visiting her Missionaries of Charity, the religious order she had founded in 1950, so I suppose it was appropriate that we should meet, not in her motherhouse near the Coliseum in Rome, or in one of her hospices for the dying in India, but amid the bustle of an airport.

We sat together in the arrivals section and she quickly had me laughing as she proudly showed off her Air India travel pass, which entitled her to a lifetime of free worldwide air travel – a gift of the Indian government.

Indian nuns from the Catholic Order of the Missionaries of CharityImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionToday there are 6,000 followers of Mother Teresa working in 139 countries

I had been trying to arrange an interview with her for months, but the nuns at her Rome headquarters kept putting me off. Finally they rang me to say she would be arriving on such-and-such a flight from India and departing an hour-and-a-half later to Canada and I could meet her for a brief talk at the airport.

She was a tiny figure and her face was already rather wizened. She was immediately recognizable as she emerged alone through the arrival doors clutching a small white cloth bag, dressed in the blue-trimmed white cotton Indian sari and veil which she had adopted as the uniform dress for members of her missionary order.

“Do you have to pick up your suitcase as you are in transit?” I asked, feeling slightly foolish for suggesting that a living saint might misplace her baggage tag.

“No,” she replied. “I carry around all my worldly possessions with me in this little bag. My personal needs are very simple!”

Before tackling more weighty metaphysical and theological matters and hearing how she devoted her life to the poorest of the poor, I decided to try to find out more about how a living saint organised her travels. I was intrigued by her Air India free travel pass.

“How do you plan ahead?” I asked, in the pre-mobile phone era.

Mother Teresa in KolkataImage copyright  IMAGES
Image caption Mother Teresa worked with the dying and destitute in Kolkata for nearly half a century

“Well I usually ring up, from a coin box at the airport, the head of state or the prime minister or Pope John Paul at the Vatican if I am in Rome – and they send a car to the airport to meet me,” she said.

By the time I met her in the late 1980’s, Mother Teresa’s sisters and affiliated brothers and fathers had already grown to become an international family of 1,800 nuns and many thousands of lay workers.

Today they number nearly 6,000 and are active in 139 countries. Her order knows practically no territorial boundaries and she was already setting up homes and hospices and recruiting in Eastern Europe long before the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Soviet Union.

She opened two centers in Hong Kong as early as 1983, but China has so far resisted attempts by the order to minister to their poor.

As the minutes ticked by, Mother Teresa went on to explain to me her single-minded devotion to her work of ministering to the sick, the dying and the disabled.

Pope John Paul II with Mother TeresaImage copyrightEPA
Image captionMother Teresa was a close friend of Pope John Paul II

In her own words: “Our mission was to care for the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society, people that have become a burden to society and are shunned by everyone.”

Pope John Paul II had visited Mother Teresa’s hospice for the dying in Kolkata during his pilgrimage to India in 1986 and the two became close friends.

Mother Teresa frequently appeared at Vatican ceremonies at the Pope’s side until her death. Later, in record time, in 2003 she was herself created a Blessed of the Roman Catholic Church, marking her final step towards full sainthood.

Her flight to Toronto was called and we walked together to the departures hall. She disappeared behind the automatic doors, still clutching her small cloth bag and passing unrecognized, it seemed to me, among the throngs of passengers crisscrossing the transit zone.

I knew I had met a living saint; she had touched my heart, transmitted her sense of joy for life, and she had also made me laugh.