Tens of thousands flee as 'Nilam' cyclone hits south India

Oct 31 2012, 18:55 IST
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SummaryRain lashed the region and strong winds uprooted trees in some places.

More than 100,000 people were evacuated from their homes Wednesday as a tropical storm hit southern India from the Bay of Bengal, officials said.

Rain lashed the region and strong winds uprooted trees in some places. Weather officials said the storm packed winds of up to 100 kilometers (60 miles) per hour as it made landfall near Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu state.

A storm surge of up to 1.5 meters (5 feet) was expected to flood low-lying areas of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh states, the India Meteorological Department said.

It said it expected heavy to very heavy rainfall over parts of the states during the next 24 hours. Fishermen were asked to stay at shore until Thursday.

State authorities turned 282 schools into relief centers in Chennai. The city's port halted cargo operations, but berthing of ships was continuing, the Press Trust of India news agency said. Twenty-three ships were moved to safer areas.

About 150,000 people were moved to shelters in Nellore district in Andhra Pradesh state, district official B. Sridhar said.

In Sri Lanka, authorities said two people were killed and thousands displaced due to heavy rain and strong winds from the storm.

Sri Lanka's Disaster Management Center said 4,627 people across the island nation had been displaced because of flooding, while 56 were evacuated in the central region due to threats of landslides. One woman died Tuesday after a tree branch fell on her, while another person was killed in flooding, the agency said. Floods have also damaged about 1,000 houses, it said.

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