Cyclone damages homes, kills 10 in southern India

NEW DELHI — A cyclone blew ashore Friday in a southern India coastal region, killing at least 10 people and damaging homes after more than 80,000 residents were evacuated.

Cyclone Gaja hit coastal areas of Tamil Nadu state with heavy rains and winds of 90 kilometers (55 miles) per hour, said Narendra Kumar, an official of the National Disaster Response Force. The storm was weakening after coming onshore.

People living in low-lying areas had been moved into more than 470 relief centers in six districts, and fishermen were warned to stay away from the sea.

The initial reports indicate the deaths counted so far were caused by wall collapses and electrocution, said NDRF official Umesh, who uses one name.

The storm felled trees and power lines, and authorities preventively disconnected the electric supply to the worst-hit areas to avoid electrocutions. Schools were closed in places, and vehicles remained off the roads in most parts of Nagapattinam and Karaikal districts, the Press Trust of India news agency said.

Tamil Nadu state is prone to cyclones that develop in the Bay of Bengal. In 1999, a cyclone killed more than 15,000 people in eastern Orissa.

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