At least two people died as Cyclone Vardah made landfall in coastal areas of India's southern state of Tamil Nadu on Monday.
The "severe cyclone" brought heavy rains and winds with speeds up to 120 kilometres per hour as it made landfall some 50 kilometres north of the state capital, Chennai.
"Two people died in the initial hours of the storm, including a girl who was killed when her house collapsed," an official at the state disaster management control room said.
Hundreds of trees and electricity poles have been uprooted. An estimated 17,000 people are being evacuated to relief camps in Tamil Nadu and its neighbouring state of Andhra Pradesh.
"The western part of Cyclone Vardah has crossed the coast around 10 km north of Chennai," said S. Balachandran, director at the Regional Meteorological Centre.
"Now the central part is crossing. Then the eastern part of the cyclone will cross. Since the central part is crossing there is calm and the rains have stopped.
"The landfall will continue till 8-9 pm," he added.
Balachandran said it was not possible to pinpoint the area where the cyclone had crossed since data had to be collated and also only one part of Vardah had hit the coast.
He said wind speed touched around 90 kmph when the cyclone crossed.
There would be a brief lull in the wind and rains but they would again pick up, he said.
The government said over 8,000 people were shifted to relief camps set up in Chennai, Kanchipuram, Thiruvallur and Villupuram districts.
A total of 260 trees and 37 electricity poles had fallen in Chennai.
The railways cancelled suburban services and diverted some long distance trains.
A total of 20 flights were diverted, nine got delayed and five were cancelled.
"As the wind speed is around 50 knots, it is not conducive to operate the flights," Chennai Airport Director Deepak Shastri told IANS.
Around 500 passengers remained in the domestic terminal. He said the incoming flights were diverted to Bengaluru or Coimbatore.
The Met department predicted rainfall over south coastal Andhra Pradesh, north coastal Tamil Nadu and Puducherry over the next 36 hours (till Wednesday).
The rainfall intensity would increase gradually, becoming heavy to very heavy rainfall (7-19 cm) at a few places and isolated extremely heavy rainfall (less than equal to 20 cm) over Chennai, Thiruvallur and Kanchipuram districts of Tamil Nadu and Nellore and Prakasam districts of Andhra Pradesh on Monday.
The weather department warned of squally winds in parts of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
The tidal wave of about one metre height above the astronomical tide is very likely to inundate the low lying areas of Chennai, Thiruvallur and Kanchipuram districts of Tamil Nadu and Nellore in Andhra Pradesh.
The Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard were geared up to lend a helping hand.
The Tamil Nadu government declared a holiday for all government, government-aided private schools, colleges and other educational institutions in the affected areas.
It urged the private sector to allow workers to avail a holiday or work from home.
LEAVE A COMMENT Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*
Trump to open world’s biggest cricket stadium in Ahmedabad
Former MP, Bengali matinee idol Tapas Pal dies aged 61
Storm Dennis wreaks havoc across Britain
French MPs launch debate of govt pensions overhaul
Greek compromise offer on new island migrant centres
Modi ‘hiding’ Gujarat poverty to impress Trump: Shiv Sena
Buffalo jockey turns down sprint trial
Jaishankar defends new citizenship law
New era of development politics has begun: CM