Thousands Flee as Cyclone Hits Southern India

Posted October 31st, 2012 at 11:00 am (UTC-5)
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Tens of thousands of people were evacuated from their homes Wednesday as Cyclone Nilam slammed into India's southern coast.

India's Meteorological Department said Nilam struck the port city of Mahabalipuraman, south of Chennai.

It was expected to move towards Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry over the next few hours, bringing heavy rains and winds approaching 100 kilometers an hour.

Forecasters say it could bring a storm surge of one to one-and-a-half meters to low-lying coastal areas.

Indian officials are warning fishermen to cease operations and encouraging others along the southeastern coast to move inland.

The weather agency said residents should expect possible minor damage to power and communication lines, flooding of escape routes, and possibly extensive damage to thatched roofs and huts.

Local authorities have turned hundreds of schools into emergency relief centers.