Sat, Dec 31, 2011 - Page 5 News List

Cyclone Thane makes landfall on India’s south coast

Reuters, CHENNAI

Lashing rains and gale force winds bore down on India’s southeastern coast yesterday, disrupting power supplies and communication lines as Cyclone Thane made landfall near the industrial city of Chennai, officials and witnesses said.

With wind speeds of up to 125kph and accompanied by tidal surges of up to 1.5m, Thane hit Tamil Nadu State, close to the former French colonial town of Pondicherry yesterday morning, as coastal villagers moved to relief shelters.

“Under the influence of this system, rainfall at most places with heavy to very heavy falls at a few places and isolated extremely heavy falls would occur,” the Indian Meteorological Department said in its latest bulletin. “Gale wind speeds reaching 120kph to 130kph gusting to 145kph is likely along and off north Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry coasts during the next 3 hours and will then decrease gradually.”

Witnesses in Chennai and Pondicherry said trees had been toppled, that there were power outages throughout the night and disruptions in telephone and Internet services in some areas.

There have been no reports of casualties.

Hundreds of people from fishing communities along north Tamil Nadu’s coast and neighboring Andhra Pradesh State, have moved to schools set up as relief centers until the weather system passes.

India’s cyclone season generally lasts from April to December, with severe storms often causing dozens of deaths and the evacuation of tens of thousands of people from low-lying villages and widespread crop and property damage.

In 1999, a “super-cyclone” battered the coast of the eastern state of Orissa for 30 hours with wind speeds reaching 300kph. It killed 10,000 people.

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