Hundreds of thousands have been evacuated as a severe cyclone slammed into southeastern India, packing strong winds and torrential rains and killing at least two people.
“Cyclone Helen has made landfall,” an official with the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) told AFP, as rains lashed Andhra Pradesh, disrupting life and snapping communication lines.
Two people were killed by falling trees in the storm that comes a month after a cyclone left at least 18 people dead and a trail of destruction along coastal Andhra Pradesh.
Disaster authorities expect “high rainfall during the next 24 hours” in three coastal districts of cyclone-prone Andhra Pradesh, the official said.
The cyclone was expected to be downgraded into a “deep depression” later on Friday.
State authorities have evacuated hundreds of thousands of people out of the storm’s path and rushed emergency services into areas reeling from the high winds and heavy rains.
The Indian weather office said there could be “extensive damage to thatched roofs and huts”, and 20 rescue teams have been deployed in the flood zone to provide help.
Helen, which is labelled “severe”, is considerably weaker than the “very severe” cyclone Phailin that pounded the east coast further to the north in October.
The most powerful storms that strike India at this time of year are classed as “super-cyclones”, followed by “very severe” and “severe”.
Phailin, which had winds of over 200km/h, tore across parts of Andhra Pradesh, ripping out trees, flipping trucks, snapping power lines and flooding farmland.