People have been asked to stay indoors as Cyclone Nivar is set to fall in the coastal states of Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Andhra.
Indian local authorities banned public gatherings and closed shops as more than 1,000 rescue workers mobilized against a powerful cyclone that ran towards the southeast coast, causing heavy rain and high winds.
The Cyclone Nivar is to cross the coasts of the state of Tamil Nadu and the small area of Puducherry as a “very severe cyclone storm” on Wednesday, the Indian Meteorological Office (IMD) announced.
Parts of Andhra Pradesh, a coastal state north of Tamil Nadu, are also expected to be hit by the cyclone. A “very severe cyclone storm” is the fifth strongest category on the IMD scale of seven storm types.
The heavy rains and strong winds could damage homes and roads, uproot power lines, destroy crops and break trees along the coast of northern Tamil Nadu and southern Andhra Pradesh, the weather bureau said in a statement.
“This will slowly intensify, maybe tonight or tomorrow, and turn into a very severe cyclone storm with winds of around 120 kilometers per hour and gusts of up to 145 kilometers per hour,” said IMD director. General Mrutyunjay Mohapatra told reporters in New Delhi.
More than 1,000 National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel have been deployed to support local efforts to evacuate residents from vulnerable coastal areas.
Tamil Nadu Prime Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami declared Wednesday a public holiday and said it could be extended.
“People who live in storm-prone areas and in houses that are not considered safe should be taken to relief centers immediately,” Palaniswami said.
Pondicherry Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi said public gatherings would be banned from late Tuesday to early Thursday.
Shops in Puducherry, with the exception of those for essential services like pharmacies and gas stations, should be closed until the cyclone is over.
In parts of Mahabalipuram, some 60 km from Tamil Nadu’s capital Chennai, local fishermen towed their boats to safety along the coast.
The center of the cyclone is expected to run about 175 km northeast of Sri Lanka’s northernmost coastal town of Kankesanthurai early Wednesday.
The fishermen in the north were advised not to go to sea. No evacuation orders were issued, but heavy rains were forecast, especially in the north of the island nation.
More than 110 people died after Amphan devastated East India and Bangladesh, flattened villages, destroyed farms and left millions without electricity in May.