Mon Dec 12, 2016 2:40PM
A rescue member removes a fallen branch of a tree that fell on a road after it was uprooted by strong winds in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India, on December 12, 2016. (Photo by Reuters)
A rescue member removes a fallen branch of a tree that fell on a road after it was uprooted by strong winds in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India, on December 12, 2016. (Photo by Reuters)
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A powerful cyclone has battered India’s southeastern coast, claiming the lives of at least two people and forcing tens of thousands of others from low-lying areas to evacuate.

The tremendous Cyclone Vardah, unleashing torrential rainfalls and hurricane-force winds, lashed the coastal districts of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh provinces on Monday morning, uprooting trees and chopping down electricity pylons in many places.

Schools and businesses were shut and airport services were suspended in affected areas, and high alert was sounded in several districts of the two provinces as the raging cyclone swept through the region with winds of up to 120 kilometers (75 miles) per hour.

The ferocious cyclone, 90 kilometers (56 miles) in diameter, also forced provincial authorities to move more than 23,000 people in Tamil Nadu to relief centers, and evacuate over 10,000 others from two districts in Andhra Pradesh.

Tropical Cyclone Vardah is seen approaching India on December 11, 2016
This December 11, 2016 NASA satellite image shows tropical Cyclone Vardah approaching India. (Carried by AFP)

“All necessary measures have been taken to ensure safety of people,” said P Narayana, the minister for municipal administration and urban planning in the Andhra Pradesh government.

A number of aircraft, and a pair of navy ships with physicians, food, other necessary material as well as 30 diving teams have also been put on standby to handle any emergencies in affected areas if needed. Furthermore, over 15 teams of the National Disaster Response Force were dispatched to most-hit areas.

Rescue members cut a tree that fell on a road after it was uprooted by strong winds in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India, on December 12, 2016. (Photo by Reuters)

The cyclone season in the eastern coast of India usually runs from April to December, with powerful storms claiming the lives of dozens of people, displacing tens of thousands of others and inflicting widespread damage on crops and property.   

The Cyclone Vardah comes about a year after Chennai, the provincial capital of Tamil Nadu, experienced devastating floods which killed 70 people.

In 1999, over 8,000 people lost their lives when a cyclone hit the eastern province of Orissa, on the Bay of Bengal.