Two people were killed Monday after Cyclone Verda pounded India’s southeastern coast at speeds of more than 100 kilometres (62 miles) per hour, forcing thousands to flee their homes.
Torrential rains accompanied by high-velocity winds hit the coastal districts of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh states, uprooting trees and disrupting power supply lines.
With a high alert issued in several affected districts, flight operations were suspended and educational institutions shut as a precaution.
K. Satyagopal, a senior revenue officer of Tamil Nadu, said in a statement two people had lost their lives as the severe cyclonic storm made landfall late afternoon.
Some 8,000 people were moved to relief shelters while another 10,000 were evacuated in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh state, the National Disaster Management Authority said.
TV footage showed cars toppling under the force of gushing winds and heavy rain in Chennai, the state capital of Tamil Nadu where devastating floods last year killed at least 250 people.
On its way inland, Cyclone Vardah hit several islands in the Andamans last week, forcing authorities to evacuate hundreds of stranded tourists from the archipelago.
Bad storms routinely hit India’s eastern coast and neighbouring Bangladesh between April and December that cause deaths and widespread property damage.
In 1999, more than 8,000 people were killed when a cyclone battered the eastern state of Orissa. – AFP