Wednesday, November 27, 2013

India's east coast braces as severe cyclone advances

Jatindra Dash in Reuters via the Thomson Reuters Foundation: Indian authorities evacuated thousands of villagers living in low-lying areas, suspended fishing operations and put disaster response teams on standby on Wednesday as a severe cyclone hurtled towards its eastern coast.

Cyclone Lehar - the third powerful storm to hit Andhra Pradesh in seven weeks - is moving in from the Bay of Bengal and forecast to make landfall near the city of Machilipatnam on Thursday afternoon with wind speeds of up to 170 kmph (105 mph).

India's weather office predicts Lehar will also bring storm surges and heavy rains and will damage mud-and-thatch homes, disrupt power and communication networks and inundate farmland along the state's northern coast.

An alert has been issued in the districts of East and West Godavari, Guntur and Krishna, said local officials, warning people to remain indoors. "Some 15,000 people have been evacuated from East Godavari," said C. Parthasarathy, commissioner of state disaster management department.

He said weather conditions had been normal in the area during the day and many coastal inhabitants were reluctant to move to cyclone shelters on higher ground, but he expected more people to be evacuated by the evening....

Cyclone Lehar on November 25, 2013, via NASA

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