December 16, 2018

Cyclone Titli Lashes Eastern India, Killing at Least 8

NEW DELHI — A powerful cyclone touched down in eastern India on Thursday, cutting off electricity, uprooting trees, crumbling mud houses and killing at least eight people, officials said.

The storm, Cyclone Titli, swept through the Bay of Bengal before hitting the coastal states of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh, where wind speeds reached 150 kilometers, or almost 95 miles, an hour when the storm made landfall in the early morning.

Videos on social media showed heavy rain lashing at communities near the water, and howling gusts of winds ripping off tin roofs and thrusting palm trees nearly parallel to the ground.

In Odisha, Bishnupada Sethi, a relief commissioner, told reporters, “Mission zero causalities has been achieved.”

But in neighboring Andhra Pradesh, officials reported that at least eight people had died, including a group of fishermen and two people in the coastal district of Srikakulam, according to the National Disaster Management Authority. It is unclear how many more people have been injured, and is too early to assess the cost of the damage.

Before the storm made landfall, the state governments evacuated several hundred thousand people, placing them in more than 1,000 shelters. By the time Cyclone Titli, the Hindi word for butterfly, touched down in India, half a million people had lost access to electricity, flights into the region were canceled and many schools were shut until the weekend.

“Every hour from now on is very crucial,” N. Chandrababu Naidu, the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, was quoted as saying in a teleconference call with officials near the coast.

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