At least eight people were killed as storms lashed India’s southeast coast, police said Tuesday, with Cyclone Michaung expected to make landfall within hours.
The cyclone was forecast to hit the coast of Andhra Pradesh state later on Tuesday morning as a “severe cyclonic storm”, packing winds up to 100 kilometres per hour, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
“We are facing the worst storm in recent memory,” Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin said, in a statement late on Monday.
In Chennai, state capital of Tamil Nadu, eight people were killed, police said in a statement Tuesday, according to AFP reports.
They include some who drowned, as well as one person hit by a falling tree, another electrocuted with live wires in the water, and one crushed by a falling wall.
Cars were seen floating on raging torrents, homes were flooded and a crocodile was spotted swimming the streets in the city. The IMD warned of “exceptionally heavy rainfall” in some areas.
Trees were uprooted and vehicles swept away due to the heavy rains, according to images posted on social media.
The cyclone is expected to hit India’s southeast coast near the town of Bapatla, on the 300-kilometre stretch between Nellore and Machilipatnam.
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 mobilize as needed”.
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.