Chennai — A tropical storm slammed into southern India, bringing heavy rain and a storm surge flooding low-lying areas and displacing more than 100 000 people. Six deaths have been reported in India and Sri Lanka.
Just before the storm made landfall on Wednesday, an oil tanker with 37 crew ran aground off Chennai. One of its lifeboats capsized in the choppy waters, and one crewmember drowned, the Press Trust of India news agency reported. Coast guard officers were searching for the lifeboat's six other occupants.
Andhra Pradesh state said two people died there when their homes collapsed due to heavy rain on Wednesday night in Nellore and Chittoor districts, and PTI reported another death in Tamil Nadu state, a 46-year old man who slipped into the rough sea from a pier and drowned. Sri Lanka reported two deaths earlier from the cyclone.
The storm from the Bay of Bengal had maximum winds of 75km/h after landfall but was weakening. A storm surge of up to 1.5m was expected to flood low-lying coastal areas, the India Meteorological Department said.
Heavy to very heavy rain was forecast for Thursday, and fishermen were asked to stay at shore.
State authorities turned 282 schools into relief centres in Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu. The city's port halted cargo operations, officials said. Twenty-three ships were moved to safer areas.
About 150 000 people were moved to shelters in Nellore, district official B. Sridhar said.
In Sri Lanka, thousands have been displaced due to heavy rain and strong winds.
The nation's Disaster Management Centre said 4 627 people were displaced by flooding and 56 fled because of a landslide threat in the island's central region.
One woman died on Tuesday after a tree branch fell on her, while another person was killed in flooding, the agency said. Floods also damaged about 1 000 houses, it said.