2 killed as Cyclone Titli smashes eastern India

Cyclone Titli, packing winds up to 165km, has slammed into eastern India, killing two people and triggering widespread flooding and power outages.

The eye of the storm, which intensified into a “very severe cyclonic storm” over the Bay of Bengal, made landfall early Thursday in coastal Odisha and Andhra Pradesh states.

There were reports from Odisha’s districts of Ganjam and Gajapati of trees being uprooted along with electricity and communication poles, news agency dpa said.

The two deaths were reported from the city of Srikakulam in Andhra Pradesh. One was crushed when his house collapsed on him and the other was struck by a falling tree, according to the Times of India.

Officials in neighbouring Bangladesh said they were on alert in the coastal district of Cox’s Bazar, home to around one million Rohingyarefugees from Myanmar living in tarpaulin and bamboo shelters.

As it hit the coast, the sustained winds were 165 kilometres per hour, meaning the system would have been classed as a category 2 hurricane if it were rated on the 5-point Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale.

However, it is believed that major damage has been avoided, partly due to the emergency measures which were put in place before the storm hit.

Over 300,000 people were moved to higher ground, schools were ordered to remain closed on Thursday and Friday, air and train travel suspended, and fishermen were instructed to stay away from the sea.

The storm is now moving northeast and the winds are weakening. However, more heavy rain is expected in the next 24 hours, which could lead to flooding.

India’s most powerful cyclone, packing winds of up to 260 kilometres per hour, struck Orissa in 1999, killing more than 10,000 people.

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