Cyclone Michaung has made landfall in southern India, after earlier torrential rains sent tall waves crashing into coastal towns, submerging roads and killing at least nine people, including a child.
The “severe cyclonic storm”, packing winds up to 100kmph (62mph), reached the shores of Andhra Pradesh state near the town of Bapatla, shortly after noon on Tuesday, the Indian Meteorological Department said.
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Parts of the state are expected to be pelted with more than 200mm (8 inches) of rain over the next 24 hours, the weather office said earlier.
“We are facing the worst storm in recent memory,” neighbouring Tamil Nadu state’s chief minister, MK Stalin, said in a statement late on Monday, as government authorities evacuated thousands of people from the coastal areas.
Prior to the landfall, deadly floodwaters surged down the streets of Chennai in Tamil Nadu. Officials said eight people were killed in the state. Some had drowned, one person was hit by a falling tree, and another was electrocuted by live wires in the water.
Chennai residents were seen wading waist-deep through the murky floodwaters, which swept away people and vehicles, uprooting trees and inundating homes. A crocodile was also spotted swimming in the city streets.
Meanwhile, in Tirupati district in Andhra Pradesh, a four-year-old boy was killed by a falling wall, C Nagaraju, executive director of the state’s disaster management authority, said.
Before landfall, industrial operations, transport services, businesses and schools suspended their work, heeding the warnings of the authorities about the expected severity of the storm. The flooding also caused Chennai airport to temporarily shut down.
Rescue teams were deployed across the affected region and more were “on standby to mobilise as needed”, said federal Home Minister Amit Shah. The government was “braced to provide all the necessary assistance to Andhra Pradesh”, he said.
The cyclone is expected to weaken late on Tuesday.