Chennai: Cyclone Michaung wreaks havoc, triggers public holiday
Thousands of people have been evacuated from coastal communities as two southern states brace for the impact
India's southeastern coastline has been lashed by strong wind and heavy rain with two states on Monday, 4 December placed on high alert.
The warning comes ahead of Cyclone Michaung which is churning its way towards the region, packing winds of 90-100 kilometers per hour (56-62 miles per hour).
India's Meteorological Department (IMD) said the weather system was still situated in the western part of the Bay of Bengal and was likely to make landfall along the coast of Andhra Pradesh around noon on Tuesday, 5 December.
Floods in Chennai
Authorities said at least five people were killed in Tamil Nadu state in weather-related incidents.
In Chengalpattu — a district situated south of the regional capital Chennai — two people were killed when a wall collapsed due to heavy rain, a senior disaster management official told the Reuters news agency.
In Chennai — which is Tamil Nadu's largest city — floodwaters swept cars away and a crocodile swas potted swimming in the streets. Chennai's airport, one of India's busiest travel hubs, had to suspend operations as the runway flooded.
Several neighborhoods were swamped in knee-deep water and power outages were reported in some parts.
How Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh are preparing for Cyclone Michaung
Authorities in the two states have started evacuating thousands of people living in coastal communities.
Preparations were also underway for the evacuation of 28,000 people depending on the course and severity of the cyclone.
Schools and other centers of learning, along with banks and offices have closed their doors in four districts of Chennai, according to government notices.
India's weather office issued a "red alert" with 200-250 millimeters of rain expected to fall over a 24-hour period.
Cyclones — the equivalent of hurricanes in the North Atlantic or typhoons in the Northwest Pacific — are a regular and deadly menace on coasts in the northern Indian Ocean.