Thousands evacuated as cyclone nears southern India

With forecast of heavy rains for the next 24 hours in Nellore, Chittoor, Prakasam and Anantapuramu districts, the official machinery has been asked to remain on alert, mostly to prevent breach of tanks.

"The western part of the cyclone Vardah has crossed the coast around 10 km north of Chennai", S. Balachandran, Director at the Regional Meteorological Centre, told IANS.

Eight fishermen belonging to Tamil Nadu were rescued from the sea near the Sriharikota High Altitude Range while search was on for ten more persons feared trapped at sea.

Chennai Airport has also suspended operations till 6pm.

Prior to the storm's landing, Chennai already was pounded with heavy rain and winds.

The railways cancelled suburban rail services and diverted some long distance trains. ― Reuters picCHENNAI, Dec 12 ― A cyclone barrelled into the southeast coast of India today, killing at least two people and bringing down trees and power lines as authorities moved tens of thousands of people from low-lying areas.

Around 25 incoming flights, including those from worldwide destinations, were diverted to the nearby Hyderabad and Bangalore airports due to strong winds and poor visibility, airport officials said. 8000 people have been taken to 54 relief centres in Tamil Nadu.

The government readied boats for relief work.

Cyclone Vardah has hit the coast making landfall close to Chennai.

As many as 19 team of National Disaster Response Force (one team comprises of 35 personnel) have been deployed in coastal areas of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh to deal with any situation arising out of the cyclone's landfall.

Squally winds hit Chennai this morning as the very severe cyclonic storm approached Tamil Nadu.

"Vardah", which means "red rose", has hit northern Tamil Nadu and southern Andhra Pradesh on Monday. Tada, Sullurpeta, Naidupeta and other parts of Nellore districts were also receiving heavy rains. Schools and colleges have declared holiday in four districts.

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