Eight dead as cyclone batters India’s southeast coast
by AFP Staff Writers
Chennai, India (AFP) Dec 5, 2023
Chest-high waters surged down the streets of India’s southern city Chennai on Tuesday with eight people killed in intense floods as Cyclone Michaung was set to make landfall on the southeast coast.
The cyclone was forecast to hit the coast of Andhra Pradesh state later Tuesday as a “severe cyclonic storm”, packing winds up to 100 kilometres (62 miles) per hour, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
In Chennai, cars were seen floating on raging torrents, homes were flooded, and a crocodile was spotted swimming the streets in the city.
In some parts of the flooded city, people used boats to get out of their flooded neighbourhoods to the safety of government relief shelters.
The IMD warned of “exceptionally heavy rainfall” in some areas.
“We are facing the worst storm in recent memory,” Tamil Nadu state chief minister M.K. Stalin said, in a statement late Monday.
Police said on Tuesday that eight people had been killed in the state capital of Chennai.
They included some who drowned, as well as one person hit by a falling tree, another electrocuted by live wires in the water, and one crushed by a falling wall.
Trees were uprooted and vehicles swept away due to the heavy rains, according to images posted on social media.
Apple iPhone manufacturers Foxconn and Pegatron and automaker Hyundai suspended their operations in Tamil Nadu due to the storm, local media reported.
– Emergency response –
The cyclone is expected to hit India’s southeast coast near the town of Bapatla, on the 300-kilometre (185-mile) stretch between Nellore and Machilipatnam.
Hundreds of people from coastal villages in the neighbouring state of Andhra Pradesh have moved inland, with emergency rescue teams deployed to deal with the aftermath of the cyclone’s landfall, according to local media.
Sea surges of waves up to 1.5 metres (nearly five feet) above normal tide levels are expected when the cyclone makes landfall, the IMD said.
Home Minister Amit Shah said the government was “braced to provide all the necessary assistance to Andhra Pradesh”, with rescue teams deployed and more “on standby to mobilise as needed”.
The cyclone is expected to weaken late Tuesday.
Scientists have warned that storms are becoming more powerful as the world gets warmer with climate change.
Cyclones — the equivalent of hurricanes in the North Atlantic or typhoons in the Northwest Pacific — are a regular and deadly menace on coasts in the northern Indian Ocean, where tens of millions of people live.
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