A fish vendor struggles to hold onto his umbrella against the fast blowing wind, on the banks of Brahmaputra river, in Guwahati. (PTI)

Storm Fani Weakens as India, Bangladesh Restore Utility Services

(Bloomberg) -- Authorities launched a massive restoration-and-relief effort after Cyclone Fani left a trail of damage in eastern India and Bangladesh.

At least 16 people were killed in India as the storm lashed the states of Odisha and West Bengal on Friday, before weakening and entering into Bangladesh, the Press Trust of India reported. The death toll in Bangladesh stood at 14, the Daily Star newspaper reported.

Phone services have been restored in Odisha state’s capital Bhubaneswar, and partially in the temple town of Puri, said N.C. Marwah, a member of the National Disaster Management Authority. Power supply in the state is expected to start normalizing soon, he said. River transport started in Bangladesh after a three-day shutdown as the cyclone eased, Inland Water Transport Authority’s Inspector Humayun Kabir said.

Storm Fani Weakens as India, Bangladesh Restore Utility Services

Fani, which unleashed heavy rain and wind gusts of up to 205 kilometers (127 miles) per hour, was the severest cyclone to hit Odisha since the Super Cyclone of 1999, which claimed nearly 10,000 lives. Odisha, home to aluminum units, power plants, coal mines and an oil refinery, is battered by cyclonic storms every year.

This time, the government evacuated more than one million people in Odisha to cyclone shelters, while in West Bengal 42,000 people were moved away. In Bangladesh, more than 1,000 generators have been deployed to back up power supply to telecom towers in the cyclone-hit areas, according to Muhammad Hasan, a spokesman for Grameenphone Ltd., a unit of Norway’s Telenor ASA and Bangladesh’s largest telecom carrier.

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