A massive evacuation process was underway ahead of the landfall of cyclonic storm 'Fani' in Odisha coast, even as Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Thursday appealed people not to panic over the cyclone.

Approximately eight lakh people would be evacuated from low-lying coastal areas to safer places in the state. 'Fani' is likely to hit the state's coast in Puri district on Friday evening.

Holding a review meeting here, Patnaik said the government is ready to tackle the situation as every life is precious.

He instructed the District Collectors of Puri, Khurda, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapada, Ganjam, Gajapati and Cuttack to expedite evacuation in low-lying areas.

The Chief Minister also held a meeting with top executives of various telecom operators in the state and asked them for early restoration of telecommunication after the cyclone makes landfall.

Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) Bishnupada Sethi said arrangements have been made to start free kitchens to provide cooked food to the evacuated people.

Cyclone Fani

Over one lakh dry food packets have been kept ready for air dropping in the areas to be affected by the storm. About 879 multi-purpose cyclone/flood shelters are kept in readiness for sheltering people to be evacuated.

The East Coast Railway has decided to run three special trains from Puri to Shalimar and Howrah in West Bengal on Thursday for tourists.

Notably, the Railways has cancelled 103 trains in view of the cyclonic storm, which is likely to hit Odisha coast between Gopalpur and Chandbali.

Cyclone 'Fani', which has turned into an "extreme severe cyclonic" storm, is located around 225 kms south-southeast of Visakhapatnam and around 430 kms south-southwest of Puri, said the India Meteorological Department.

Cyclone Fani: PM reviews preparedness; issues directions

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday chaired a high-level meeting to review preparedness for cyclone Fani, which is going to hit Odisha and some other eastern coastal states on Friday and instructed senior officers of the union government to ensure preventive measures and effective relief and rescue operations.

At the meeting, he directed the senior officers of the central government to maintain close coordination with officers of the affected states, a PMO statement said. 

The Prime Minister was briefed on the likely path of the cyclone, and the ongoing precautionary and preparatory measures being undertaken, the statement said.

These include provisions of adequate resources, deployment of teams from NDRF and the Armed Forces, arrangements to provide drinking water and standby systems to restore power and telecom services. 

"After reviewing the emerging situation, the Prime Minister instructed senior officers of the Union Government to maintain close coordination with officers of the affected States, to ensure preventive measures, and also to take effective steps for relief and rescue operations, as required," it added.

The meeting was attended by Cabinet Secretary, the Principal Secretary to the PM, the Additional Principal Secretary to the PM, the Home Secretary, and other senior officials from the IMD, NDRF, NDMA and PMO.

The cyclone is expected to hit Odisha on Friday evening.

A massive evacuation process is underway in the state ahead of the landfall of cyclonic storm. About eight lakh people would be evacuated from low-lying coastal areas to safer places in the state.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Thursday appealed people not to panic over the cyclone.