India shuts schools, halts flights as Cyclone Michaung nears

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Authorities in southern India closed schools and offices, halted flights and evacuated coastal areas on Monday ahead of a severe cyclonic storm expected to make landfall in the next 24 hours, bringing torrential rainfall.

Cyclone Michaung is expected to land on the coast of the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh on Tuesday morning, the country’s weather office said, with sustained winds of 90-100 kph (56-62 mph), gusting to 110 kph.

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Authorities in Andhra Pradesh and neighboring Tamil Nadu were on high alert for damage, evacuating thousands of people living in coastal areas, officials in both states said, with warnings issued for fishermen not to venture out into the sea.

Media showed images of cars floating as water coursed through the streets of Chennai, a city of nearly seven million people and the capital of Tamil Nadu, as rain pelted down. Several areas of the city were submerged in knee-deep water and there have been power outages since Monday morning, a Reuters witness said.

Authorities closed down operations at Chennai airport on Monday, citing “severe weather conditions”.

The industries department in Tamil Nadu, a manufacturing hub and host to major electronics and automobile manufacturers, including Hyundai and Apple supplier Foxconn, said only “essential supply companies” would function for now.

Schools, colleges, offices and banks were closed on Monday and Tuesday in at least four districts of Tamil Nadu because of weather conditions, a government notice said.

Parts of Andhra Pradesh were likely to get more than 200 millimeters of rain over the next 24 hours, India’s weather office said.

In Andhra Pradesh, authorities had evacuated nearly 7,000 people in eight coastal districts and were preparing to evacuate a total of 28,000, depending on the cyclone’s path and severity, a senior official in the state’s disaster management department told Reuters.

In Tamil Nadu, authorities declared a public holiday in four coastal districts and asked people not to venture out unless necessary.

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