Cyclone batters Eastern India, 300,000 evacuated

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A cyclone packing winds of over 165 kilometers (100 miles) per hour and heavy rains slammed into India's eastern seaboard on Thursday, destroying huts, uprooting trees, snapping power lines and telephone poles, leaving hundreds of thousands without power.

Over 300,000 people were also evacuated from low-lying areas.

Heavy winds were likely to cause a storm surge and officials said they expected low-lying areas in the states of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh to be inundated.

Tropical cyclone made landfall in the Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh in the early hours, the India Meteorological Department said.

There were no immediate reports of deaths, but the storm wreaked havoc on infrastructure, blocking roads and hampering emergency work.

"We fear 6,000-7,000 electricity poles may have been uprooted," K. Dhananjaya Reddy, district administrative chief of Srikakulam, told Reuters. "Around 400,000 to 500,000 people are now without electricity."

TV footage showed tin roofs of several houses being blown away.

"The storm has caused heavy to very heavy rainfall in some districts of Odisha, damage to houses, street lights and roadblocks due to fallen trees," said Special Relief Commissioner Bishnupada Sethi. "We are still assessing the damage and roadblocks are being cleared."

The Bay of Bengal often witnesses cyclones at this time of year, with some causing widespread death and destruction. Odisha was hit last month by a low-intensity storm.

Officials in Odisha evacuated more than 300,000 people, suspended operations at the port of Paradip and cancelled many trains and flights on Wednesday.

The Odisha Chief Minister's office in a tweet on Wednesday said schools and colleges across the state would remain closed for the week.

"Operations at Paradip have been suspended and all ships have been shifted to deep sea," the Deputy Conservator of Paradip Port, Captain A.K. Mohapatra, told Reuters.

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