Guwahati: Assam is all set to brave Cyclone Fani, which has been hailed as the biggest in two decades, with ferry services being cancelled in the state and disaster relief forces put on high alert. The Eastern Air Command, too, is gearing up for any eventuality with 15 aircraft, including helicopters, ready for quick deployment.
The Assam inland water transport (IWT) department on Friday suspended ferry services on Brahmaputra and Barak rivers with immediate effect till May 5. IWT chief Rahul Das issued an advisory directing all vessel staff on-board “to remain vigilant and alert in watching over the boats, vessels etc. against their place of posting so that all precautionary measures are adopted well ahead of time and to ensure that the departmental boats/vessels/barges etc. with equipment under them are strictly protected”.
Das said that vessels and boats must be properly equipped with lifesaving, firefighting and mooring materials in order to avoid any casualty in the event of an unforeseen situation.
Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal took to Twitter to allay fears. “District administration, ASDMA & disaster relief forces have been put on high alert. Toll Free numbers 1077, 1070, 1079 are operational for any requirement,” he tweeted.
Meanwhile, the Eastern Air Command in coordination with the Indian Air Force has also prepared for the storm. In a tweet, it said: “6 ALHs with winch and 5 Mi17s & 4 AN-32s with relief material & medical teams are on standby. Helicopters are also ready at other bases for quick deployment in Odisha & WB.”
Cyclone Fani, which made its landfall near Puri, Odhisha on Friday morning, has claimed at least nine lives till now. The cyclonic storm, which has since then weakened, is likely to cause heavy rainfalls across Northeast, except Sikkim, said reports.