Cyclone Fani: Death toll rises to 43 in Odisha (Reports).

The death toll from Cyclone Fani, which left a trail of destruction and devastation in coastal Odisha after it hit the state on May 3, has increased to 64, an official report said on Sunday.

A Cyclone Situation Report released by the office of Special Relief Commissioner said that while 39 deaths were reported from worst-affected Puri district, nine deaths occurred in Khurdha and six in Cuttack. Four persons were killed in Mayurbhanj district and three deaths reported each from Jajpur and Kendrapara, it added.

A total of 1.64 crore people have been affected in 14 districts by the cyclone. Meanwhile, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Sunday announced that permanent houses will be sanctioned for all families whose houses were completely or substantially damaged due to the cyclonic storm. The house damage assessment will begin from May 15 and will be completed within a week, he added.

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In addition to human casualties, 14 lakh trees and eight lakh saplings were damaged, an official said on Saturday. The Forest and Environment Department is the worst-affected in the cyclone as it sustained a Rs.537 crore loss, Secretary, Information and Public Relations, Sanjay Kumar Singh said.

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“As per the preliminary reports, around nine lakh trees have been damaged inside sanctuaries while five lakh trees were damaged outside sanctuaries. Besides, eight lakh saplings worth Rs 39.50 crore were damaged in the cyclone,” he said.

Singh also said there was huge damage to eco-tourism facilities, which has been estimated at Rs 78 crore. The Nandankanan zoological park, which also sustained damage, will, however, re-open for public from May 21. The handloom and handicraft sectors were also affected by the cyclone..

Concerns are also rising over the impact of the storm on the famous Chilika Lake. Four new mouths have been created in Asia’s largest brackish water lake. Chilika already had two active mouths before the cyclone hit Odisha’s coast. The creation of four new mouths is likely to increase the salinity of the lake and can affect the lake’s ecosystem. The Irrawaddy Dolphins of the lake have not been spotted following the cyclone as well.

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Experts are in the process of gauging the possible biodiversity and ecology-related impacts of the increased salinity on Chilika Lake, which harbours a number of endangered marine species.

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