Hundreds of thousands flee ahead of India cyclone
December 4, 1996
Web posted at: 11:45 a.m. EST (1645 GMT)
HYDERABAD, India (CNN) -- As many as 200,000 people were
racing a cyclone in southern India's coastal region
Wednesday, evacuating the low-lying areas of the south Indian
state Andhra Pradesh ahead of a storm that is expected to
make landfall between 6 and 10 p.m. Wednesday.
At least two people were killed in the approaching storm's
heavy wind and rain.
The cyclone is expected to hit Andhra Pradesh between the
cities of Kakinada and Ongole, though meteorologists say the
storm could take an unpredictable turn.
The cyclone has windspeeds of between 150 mph (240 kph) and
180 mph (288 kph) and is accompanied by a 10-foot
(300-centimeter) tidal wave.
Authorities have commandeered trucks and public buses to
evacuate people from nearly 500 villages to shelters farther
west and were looking for fisherman who have not returned
from sea despite warnings about the cyclone, said Hari
Shanker Brahama of the Andhra Pradesh state relief
Authorities already had blocked roads in the area and cut off
electricity supplies so that uprooted electric poles would
not cause accidents, officials said. India's army, navy and
air force were on alert in case they needed to help with
rescues or evacuations.
State authorities have declared a red alert in seven coastal
districts of Andhra Pradesh.
The storm is being compared to a cyclone that hit Andhra
Pradesh in November and was believed to have claimed 2,000
Official sources say 1,059 people died in the storm and 925
are missing. It damaged 650,000 houses and nearly 1.5 million
acres (600,000 hectares) of fertile agricultural lands.
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