India braces for impact from Cyclone Vardah

  • 12/12/2016
A man cycling in Dhaka in November before earlier cyclone Nada (Getty)
A man cycling in Dhaka in November before earlier cyclone Nada (Getty)

At least two people are dead as Cyclone Vardah makes landfall in coastal areas of India's southern state of Tamil Nadu.

The "severe cyclone" brought heavy rains and winds with speeds up to 120km/h as it made landfall some 50km north of the state capital, Chennai.

"Two people died in the initial hours of the storm, including a girl who was killed when her house collapsed," an official at the state disaster management control room said.

Hundreds of trees and electricity poles have been uprooted. An estimated 17,000 people are being evacuated to relief camps in Tamil Nadu and its neighbouring state of Andhra Pradesh.

Schools and businesses were shut and Chennai airport services suspended as heavy rain and winds lashed the city.

Vardah is forecast to weaken gradually as it moves west.

More than 10,000 people from two districts in Andhra Pradesh have also been moved, its disaster management commissioner, M.V. Seshagiri Babu, said.

A "storm surge" will be about one metre high.

The National Disaster Management Authority advised fishermen to avoid the sea in the states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh for the next 36 hours, and told residents to stay in safe places.

Navy ships and aircraft, as well as 30 diving teams, were on standby to help move people and deliver aid if need be, a navy spokesman said.

India's cyclone season usually lasts from April to December, and storms often cause dozens of deaths, evacuations of tens of thousands of people from low-lying areas and widespread crop and property damage.