Eight people died as a severe cyclone damaged houses and toppled trees in coastal areas of India's eastern Andhra Pradesh and Orissa states on Thursday.
All eight deaths were reported from the Andhra Pradesh coast and no casualties were reported so far from neighbouring Orissa. Six of the victims were fishermen, an official at the Andhra Pradesh disaster management control room said.
Casualties were low as administrations in both states had evacuated thousands of people from the low-lying coastal areas bordering the Bay of Bengal.
Fishermen had been warned two days ago not to venture into the sea, Orissa's special relief commissioner Bishnupada Sethi said earlier on Thursday.
Cyclone Titli, categorized as ‘a severe cyclonic storm’ by the Meteorological Department, hit the coast along the Bay of Bengal with surface wind speeds of 140-150 kilometres per hour. Titli means butterfly in Hindi.
‘We had evacuated 300,000 residents from coastal areas of five districts where the storm was to make landfall as a precautionary measure,’ said Sethi.
There were reports from Orissa's districts of Ganjam and Gajapati of trees being uprooted along with electricity and communication poles, Sethi said.
Those evacuated were being kept in special shelters and pregnant women were moved to state-run health centres and hospitals, the commissioner said.
At least another 30 fishermen had been rescued by the coastguard, Sethi added.
Fire services and local administration personnel were working to remove uprooted trees blocking roads. Water reservoirs were also being monitored for flooding, officials said.
Several coastal areas had no electricity and phone connections, officials said.
By afternoon, the storm which was travelling north-west, had weakened into a ‘severe’ storm, said M Mahapatra, head of Tropical Cyclones Division of the Indian Metereological Department. It was expected to weaken further by evening.
Cyclones often form over the Bay of Bengal from April to November. India's most powerful cyclone, packing winds of up to 260 kilometres per hour, struck Orissa in 1999, killing more than 10,000 people.
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