India

Cyclone Thane hits southern Indian coast

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Media captionCyclone Thane has uprooted trees and damaged electricity poles

Cyclone Thane has made landfall on the southern Indian coast, battering the area with rain and strong winds, officials say.

Winds of 140km/h (86mph) have damaged houses and uprooted trees and electricity poles.

At least six people are reported to have died. Fishermen have been advised not to venture out into the rough sea.

Officials said the cyclone would weaken within a few hours. Forecasters have predicted winds of 145 km/h (90mph).

They have warned of storm surges from the sea.

The cyclone made landfall on the coast between Cuddalore in Tamil Nadu state and the union territory of Pondicherry early on Friday, officials of the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) said.

"The cyclone is in the process of crossing between Cuddalore and Pondicherry coast. The wind speed is around 140 km/h at Pondicherry and Cuddalore. Waves 1.5m high are hitting the shores," an official told the Indian Abroad News Service agency.

'Heavy rains'

Fishermen in the area have been advised not to go out into sea and disaster management teams have been sent to the coastal districts of Tamil Nadu.

Trains coming in to the Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu, have been delayed and the local port is "on high alert" and has asked ships to move out to safe distance, reports say.

People living near natural water reservoirs have been asked to move to safer places as surplus water will be released if the heavy rain continues.

Officials said there would be "heavy to very heavy" rain in parts of Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry and parts of the neighbouring states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala during the next 24 hours.

Last year, at least 23 people were killed when the southern coast was battered by Cyclone Laila, the worst storm to hit the state of Andhra Pradesh in 14 years. More than 50,000 people had to be evacuated.

Andhra Pradesh saw its worst cyclone in 1977 in which more than 10,000 people were killed.

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