Severe cyclone hits eastern Indian coast killing two

GOPALPUR, India (AP) — A severe cyclone damaged homes and blew down trees and power poles yesterday in eastern India, where two people were killed and nearly 300,000 moved to higher ground.

The cyclone named Titli, or Butterfly, had winds blowing up to 150 kilometres per hour when it came onshore, the India Meteorological Department said. It spread rain widely in coastal districts of Orissa state and also hit northern parts of neighbouring Andhra Pradesh state.

A woman was fatally hit by an uprooted tree and a man was killed when his house collapsed in Srikakulam district following heavy rains, said Andhra Pradesh Labour Minister Kinjarapu Acchan Naidu.

Schools were closed and air and train travel curtailed in the region. Authorities also set up more than 800 cyclone and flood shelters stocked with food and relief materials.

Electricity and telephone links were lost in several towns and villages in Gajapati district and some roads were blocked, Orissa disaster relief official BP Sethi told reporters in Bhubaneshwar, the state capital.

The cyclone was likely to weaken further and become a deep depression by today, the Meteorological Department said in a statement.

Orissa state is prone to cyclones, which develop in the Bay of Bengal.

In 1999, a devastating cyclone killed more than 15,000 people. Bangladesh’s coastal districts were also warned to prepare for possible storm effects there.

Boats were ordered ashore and inland ferries were told to suspend services.

Villagers rush for shelter near Arjipalli beach as cyclone Titli fall near Gopalpur coast of Bay of Bengal Sea in Ganjam district of Odisha, 170km away from the eastern Indian city Bhubaneswar. – AP