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India: Cyclone Michaung makes landfall, several dead

December 5, 2023

Cyclone Michaung has hit the coast of Andhra Pradesh state in southeastern India, causing widespread damage. At least eight people have been killed in intense floods in the city of Chennai further down the coast.

Two women wade through knee-high water in a corridor of Tambaram Government Hospital in Chennai
Underwater: Tambaram Government Hospital in Chennai was hit by flooding as the cyclone arrivedImage: Uncredited/AP/dpa/picture alliance

At least eight people were killed in severe floods in southeastern India before Cyclone Michaung made landfall on Tuesday.

The "severe cyclonic storm," which local authorities have described as "the worst storm in recent memory," brought with it winds of 90-100 kilometers per hour (56-62 miles per hour).

The cyclone made landfall at around midday local time near the town of Bapatla in Andhra Pradesh state. "The landfall process is completed," the India Meteorological Department said on social media platform X, previously Twitter.

Andhra Pradesh officials said more than 140 trains and 40 flights were canceled in the state and at least 8,000 people were evacuated.

Indian Home Minister Amit Shah said the government was "braced to provide all the necessary assistance to [the state of] Andhra Pradesh," with rescue teams deployed and more "on standby to mobilize as needed."

The cyclone had already wreaked destruction further down the coast in the Tamil Nadu state.

Flooding in Chennai

The deaths were recorded in Tamil Nadu's regional capital of Chennai, where chest-high waters surged down the streets. Cars were seen floating on raging torrents, homes were flooded and even a crocodile was spotted swimming the streets in the city.

One person was killed by a falling tree, another was electrocuted by live wires in the water and others drowned, according to local officials.

Cyclone Michaung floods streets and homes in Tamil Nadu

Previously on Monday, authorities said at least four people had been killed in Tamil Nadu state in weather-related incidents while thousands of people evacuated from coastal communities as the region braced for impact.

Chennai airport, one of India's busiest travel hubs, had to suspend operations as the runway flooded, while schools and other centers of learning, along with banks and offices, have closed their doors in four districts of the city.

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.

Cyclone Michuang is expected to reduce in power late in the evening on Tuesday.

Scientists have warned that such storms are becoming more powerful as the world gets warmer due to climate change caused by the burning of fossil fuels.

mf/nm (AFP, Reuters)