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Cyclone closes in on India's southeastern coast
MADRAS, India (Reuters) -- A cyclone in the Bay of Bengal is expected to cross India's southeast coast early on Wednesday producing a tidal surge of more than a meter and a half (five feet), a weather official said on Tuesday.
Fishermen have been advised to stay onshore and authorities were preparing to evacuate people living in low lying areas, officials said.
The storm is about 300 km (188 miles) southeast of India's southern Madras port.
Weather official S.K. Subramanian predicted gale-force winds of 150-170 km (94-106 miles) per hour and a storm surge or tidal wave of more than 1.5 meter.
"The storm is likely to move in a west-north-westerly direction and cross the north Tamil Nadu, south Andhra coast between Cuddalore and Nellore by early tomorrow morning," Subramanian, Area Cyclone Warning Centre director, told Reuters.
The storm is expected to bring heavy rain across the coastal belt of the two southern states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh in the next 24 hours, with low-lying areas likely to be inundated.
"Winds in Madras are gusting right now and from tonight onwards the gale winds are expected to pick up in intensity," the official said.
A weather office bulletin warned that gale winds were likely to disrupt telecommunication and power lines, with trees being uprooted in many areas.
Port authorities in Madras and the smaller southern Pondicherry port have hoisted the cautionary "great danger."
"Fishermen have been advised to stay off the seas for the next 24 to 48 hours with the seas expected to be phenomenally rough," Subramanian said.
Authorities in Andhra Pradesh said preparations were underway to evacuate people living in the low-lying areas of the coastal districts of Nellore and Prakasam, which are expected to bear the brunt of the storm.
They said local control rooms have been opened to monitor the situation and government staff have been deployed on emergency duty.
In October, a severe cyclone threatened the coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh for a couple of days before fizzling out into a low-pressure trough.
In October 1999, a killer cyclone ripped through the coastal districts of eastern Orissa state, which is just north of Andhra Pradesh, leaving a trail of death and destruction.
A total of 8,495 people perished, some 13 million were rendered homeless, 2.4 million cows and other livestock were killed and 90 million trees destroyed.
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