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Millions Evacuate as Deadly Cyclone Fani Lashes India, Churns Towards Bangladesh

Medical providers mobilizing as deadly storm moves through region.


Families evacuate in Odisha, India, before Cyclone Fani came ashore on Friday. (Photo courtesy of Odisha Police Department)

Cyclone Fani made landfall in India on Friday, the strongest to make landfall in the country in two decades. At least seven people died in Odisha state after the cyclone made landfall on Friday, according to local police.

Damage reports are still emerging, but more than 1 million people were evacuated from coastal areas of India as a precaution.

As the storm moves along India’s eastern coastline, neighboring Bangladesh is also bracing for impacts, and officials were working to evacuate 2.1 million people from coastal areas on Friday.

The map above uses anonymous and aggregated population data provided by Facebook to Direct Relief on a humanitarian basis to depict more than one million people fleeing Cyclone Fani on May 2, 2019. Blue tiles represent areas of mass evacuation while red signals areas with higher population density (Map by Andrew Schroeder for Direct Relief).

Even though the flood-prone country isn’t in the direct path of the storm, rain bands and high winds could inundate low-lying areas of Bangladesh quickly.

Those at increased risk include Rohingya refugees living in settlements outside of Cox’s Bazar. Many reside in homes built without permanent foundations, placing them at risk of landslides and flash flooding.

Direct Relief is working with local staff inside India and with health provider networks in India and Bangladesh.

One of those groups is Doctors for You, an  organization that rapidly dispatched a medical team to Odisha, India, which was badly impacted by the cyclone.

The medical team will be focusing on care for vulnerable people, including women, children and adolescents, the group reported. They’ll be providing primary healthcare and reproductive health services with mobile health units and medical outposts.

Another organization Direct Relief is coordinating with is Calcutta Rescue, an organization responding with a medical team in the Kolkata area.

In Bangladesh, Direct Relief is coordinating with HOPE Hospital Foundation for Women and Children in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. The group has conducted extensive disaster response training for medical staff and is ready to respond if needed. Direct Relief has supported the organization with medical and financial support as they’ve expanded services to care for Rohingya refugees living in the area.

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