Cyclone Nivar: Powerful storm makes landfall in India
Winds of up to 130kph and heavy rains lash India's southern coast.
A powerful cyclonic storm hurtled into India’s southern coast early Thursday, uprooting trees and packing strong winds and rains as tens of thousands of people took refuge in shelters.
The centre of Nivar made landfall at 3:05 am local time between Karaikal in Puducherry territory and Mamallapuram in Tamil Nadu state with winds of up to 130 kilometres (81 miles) per hour.
The closure of the airport due to #CycloneNivar stands extended till 0900hrs of today: Chennai Airport— ANI (@ANI) November 26, 2020
Thousands of state and national emergency personnel were deployed in the southern regions of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Puducherry as authorities suspended power supply across several cities to prevent damage to the electricity grid.
One woman in Tamil Nadu died after a boundary wall collapsed following heavy rains late Wednesday, local media reported.
#WATCH Tamil Nadu: Strong wind blows in Mahabalipuram, as the landfall process of #CycloneNivar continues.— ANI (@ANI) November 25, 2020
The centre of very severe cyclonic storm #Nivar to cross coast near Puducherry within next 2 hours with wind speed of 120-130 kmph gusting to 145 kmph, as per the IMD. pic.twitter.com/DwjtRPPntH
Initially classified as a very severe cyclonic storm as it swirled in the north Indian Ocean’s Bay of Bengal, Nivar weakened after landfall into a severe cyclonic storm, the India Meteorological Department said.
Wind gusts uprooted trees and toppled electricity pylons while downpours lashed parts of the region, causing flash floods, with Cuddalore district in Tamil Nadu recording nearly 244 millimetres (9.6 inches) of rain since Wednesday morning.
The Tamil Nadu government issued a severe weather warning for further thunderstorms over the coming hours.
Tamil Nadu minister R.B. Udhayakumar said late Wednesday that around 175,000 people were moved to shelters across the state as local authorities declared a public holiday Wednesday and Thursday, shutting everything except emergency services.
Flight operations at Chennai airport were suspended until Thursday morning and metro train services halted.
In Puducherry, home to 1.6 million people, the rain-soaked streets and markets were deserted and Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi appealed to locals to stay indoors and abide by authorities’ instructions.
“Move to high places wherever you have to. There are relief centres. Please move there,” Bedi said in a video message on Twitter.
The navy said its ships, aircraft and crew were on standby to assist with disaster relief.
But people in some pockets along the coast were reluctant to abandon their homes and fishing boats and move to government shelters.
In Tamil Nadu’s capital Chennai, authorities said they were also closely observing the level of reservoirs and lakes to avoid a repeat of 2015 flooding which killed several hundred people.
#Puducherry continues to receive rainfall #CycloneNivar to move northwestwards and weaken further into a cyclonic storm during the next 3 hours, says India Meteorological Department (IMD) pic.twitter.com/xC3SUsn0Ro— ANI (@ANI) November 26, 2020
No evacuation orders were issued in Sri Lanka but heavy rains were forecast, particularly in the north of the island nation.
Fishermen there were advised not to go out to sea.
More than 110 people died after “super cyclone” Amphan ravaged eastern India and Bangladesh in May, flattening villages, destroying farms and leaving millions without electricity.
But the death toll was far lower than the many thousands killed in previous cyclones of that size, a result of improved weather forecasting and better response plans.
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