Evacuations Set To Begin As Southern India Is Put On Red Alert Over Impending Cyclone

A tropical cyclone over the Bay of Bengal is likely to hit coastal areas of India’s southern state of Andhra Pradesh over the next 24 hours, with evacuations set to begin soon, officials said on Thursday.

Cyclone Helen is predicted to bring winds of up to 120km/h, as well as heavy rainfall.

Storm surges of up to 1.5 metres at the time of landfall are expected near the city of Machillipatnam on Friday afternoon, India’s Meteorological Department said.

The storm was expected to cause “extensive damage to thatched roofs and huts. Minor damage to power and communication lines due to uprooting of large trees”, the IMD said in a statement.

Fishermen have been warned not to venture out to sea.

State disaster management official VK Ekbote said the storm was changing course, and evacuations would begin on Friday once officials were able to confirm precisely where it would make land.

The storm is expected to be significantly less intense than Cyclone Phailin, which hit India’s Orissa and Andhra Pradesh states last month, with wind speeds of over 200km/h, claiming 40 lives.

Cyclones often form over the Bay of Bengal, bringing widespread destruction and flooding to India’s southern and eastern coasts.