New Delhi, Dec. 6:Torrential rains and strong winds lashing India's southern and eastern coasts have killed at least six people, officials said, as states there braced for a powerful storm expected to make landfall later Tuesday.
The southern states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, as well as Odisha in the east, experienced heavy downpours Monday as authorities issued warnings for Tropical Cyclone Michaung, which is likely to hit the southern coast with maximum sustained winds of 90-100 kph (56-62 mph) and gusts up to 110 kph (68 mph), the Indian Meteorological Department said.
A deep depression over the Bay of Bengal intensified into a tropical storm Monday as it inched towards Bapatla, a coastal district in Andhra Pradesh state.
On Monday night, authorities in Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu, said six people in the city had died as the impending storm unleashed rains that caused trees to topple and walls to collapse, and submerged roads and cars in knee-deep waters.
Videos showed water streaming onto the city's airport tarmac, forcing authorities to shut it down and divert more than 30 flights while around 70 were cancelled, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.
Schools were shut in Andhra Pradesh, where the storm might make landfall, and officials evacuated nearly 2,000 people from coastal and low-lying villages with instructions to move over 7,000 more to safer areas, local media reported.
Tamil Nadu authorities have set up nearly 5,000 relief camps in coastal areas. In Chennai, rescuers used boats to evacuate hundreds of people stranded on the roads and inside homes that had filled with floodwaters. Chief Minister M.K. Stalin said the state was ready to face the storm with authorities deployed to vulnerable areas, and asked the public to stay indoors until it subsided.