Guwahati: Over a 1,000 tourists were stranded in the cyclone-hit state of Odisha after railways and airport authorities decided to cancel a number of trains and flights that were scheduled to run around the region.
As many as 223 trains along the Odisha coastline on the Kolkata-Chennai route have been cancelled in view of Cyclone Fani, which has already made its landfall in the coastal districts of Odisha.
The trains which have been cancelled include 140 Mail/Express trains and 83 passenger trains. Some of the prominent ones are Howrah-Chennai Central Coromandal Express, Patna-Eranakulam Express, New Delhi-Bhubaneswar Rajdhani Express, Howrah-Hyderabad East Coast Express and the Bhubaneswar-Rameswaram Express.
The New Delhi-Bhubaneswar Rajdhani Express, New Delhi-Puri Nandan Kanan Express, Puri-New Delhi Purushottam Express and the New Delhi-Puri Purushottam Express, which were scheduled to run on Thursday, have been cancelled as well.
Meanwhile, in an attempt to help the stranded tourists move to safe zones, the railways on Thursday announced a special train that will run from Puri to Kolkata. The Central Railways said that it would also run a special train from Visakhapatnam to Mumbai as per the timings and stoppages of the Konark Express to move stranded passengers.
Similarly, airport authorities have also cancelled flight services in the cyclone-hit state with effect from Thursday evening. Airline services in West Bengal were also cancelled with immediate effect on Friday morning.
Civil aviation minister Suresh Prabhu on Thursday said that all authorities concerned have been alerted to be ready to deal with Cyclone Fani and all airlines have been requested to offer assistance in rescue and relief operations.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has also announced that flights going in and out of Bhubaneswar airport have been cancelled on Friday, impacting domestic travels. In an advisory on Thursday evening, the DGCA said that no flight would depart or arrive at the Kolkata airport between 9.30 pm on Friday and 6 pm on Saturday. It also added that resuming of services would be done only after air-traffic control issues a clearance.
The airline services are waiving off cancellation and change fees for passengers who were scheduled to travel between May 2 and May 5.
The railway authorities too assured that 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.
Fani was located in the Bay of Bengal, roughly 500 km east of Chennai with a wind speed of 250 kmph and intensifying to become the strongest storm to strike the country’s coastline.