Scars of Fani emerge in Puri

Almost all the beachfront hotels have lost their doors, glass panes and ACs. The sofa sets in the lounges facing the receptionists' desks at many hotels have been blown away

  • Published 5.05.19, 7:13 AM
  • Updated 5.05.19, 7:13 AM
  • 2 mins read
  •  
A bird’s eye view of the destruction caused by Cyclone Fani, taken during aeriel surveillance by the coast guard's Dornier aircraft, shows a bus terminus near Puri. PTI

Cyclone Fani has uprooted trees and loosened sculptures at the Jagannath Temple, forcing the shrine to close indefinitely for repairs, and ransacked seaside hotels, stripping off doors and air-conditioners and spitting them out onto the streets.

Temple authorities could not say when the premises might be reopened to devotees.

Several structures at the temple were being repaired when the cyclone struck and roiled the town for six hours. Now most of the 5,000 iron poles that made up the labourers' scaffolding are strewn across the grounds, many of them twisted out of shape.

A stone lion sculpture attached to the main temple at a height of about 45 feet got loosened after a part of the scaffolding collapsed on it.

"There's even a chance that the lion might fall. So, we have been asked not to let devotees in," a member of the temple police said at the entrance. "Devotees will be allowed back after repairsUnion petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan and his staff, however, were allowed to enter the shrine on Saturday.

Sources said the death toll in Puri district was 13 and could rise. While the statewide toll remained unclear, PTI reported at least 13 deaths in six other districts combined, with several people crushed under falling trees.

"This is a rarest of rare summer cyclone, the first such to hit Odisha in 43 years and one of three to hit the state in 150 years," the agency quoted chief minister Naveen Patnaik as saying.

Almost all the beachfront hotels have lost their doors, glass panes and ACs. The sofa sets in the lounges facing the receptionists' desks at many hotels have been blown away.

The few tourists who had stayed back are regretting the decision, saying they are struggling to get food and water.

"I had arrived on May 1. The hotel management did not inform me that such a severe cyclone was on its way. I'm having a tough time," said Saroj Kumar Dey.

"Puri certainly doesn't look the happy place it used to be," said the Puri Hotel Owners' Association president, Ramkrushna Das Mohapatra.

Pratap Kumar Nandi, an event manager, said: "It will take almost a year for the tourism industry to revive."

A day after the cyclone, the famed Puri beach was deserted.

Four days after its renovation was completed, the Puri railway station suffered extensive damage, with a roof blown away and the reservation office caving in.

Puri's streets are littered with fallen trees, billboards, telephone and power poles, and TV dish antennae wrenched off rooftops.

The massive overhead water tank at the Shree Jagannath University near the beach has toppled to the ground. The glass panes at the university library and classrooms are shattered.

Almost all the trees on the Jagannath Temple premises, ple, have suffered the cyincluding the famous "Kalpa- clone's wrath. The two sculpbata" near the Ganesh Tem- tures of Jay and Bijay in front of the Singhadwara, the shrine's main entrance, have been damaged.

Bhubaneswar was engulfed in darkness with electricity and drinking water supply still cut off. With telephone and mobile towers having collapsed, officials are monitoring relief operations with the help of satellite phones.

Over 10,000 electricity poles were uprooted or broken in Bhubaneswar, state energy secretary Hemanth Sharma told PTI. Flights resumed from 1pm on Saturday.

PTI quoted Patnaik: "In Puri and parts of Khurda, we have the challenge of setting up the entire electrification afresh.".