Cyclone Fani begins landfall in eastern India

Cyclone Fani begins landfall in eastern India

Indian and Bangladeshi authorities raced to complete the removal of more than one million people out of the path of an extreme cyclone that made landfall in eastern India on Friday.

"Landfall started at 0800 hrs IST (0230 GMT). Part of eye lies over land at 0830. Entire process of eye entering into land will be completed in next 2 hrs," India's Meteorological Department tweeted.

Major airports were closed in India's eastern states of Odisha and West Bengal and the railway network virtually closed down before the arrival of "extremely severe" Cyclone Fani - expected to be the biggest storm to hit the region in more than two decades - on Friday morning.

More than one million people in the two states have been ordered to leave their homes and the Bangladesh government separately issued evacuation orders for 19 coastal districts and put the army on standby.

The Indian meteorological department is predicting Fani will hit the coast near the Hindu holy city of Puri by about 04:00 GMT in Odisha and then sweep up into West Bengal and reach Bangladesh on Saturday, and gradually weaken.

It said a storm surge of about 1.5 metres could hit Odisha and flood low-lying areas where in 1999, 10,000 people were killed by a cyclone.