Southern India braces for tropical storm


CHENNAI, India (AP) — More than 100,000 people were evacuated from their homes Wednesday as a tropical storm approached southern India from the Bay of Bengal, officials said.

Rain was already lashing the region and strong winds uprooted trees in some places. Weather officials said the storm, with wind speeds of up to 100 kilometers (60 miles) per hour, was expected to reach land later Wednesday.

A storm surge of up to 1.5 meters (5 feet) could flood low-lying areas of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh states, the India Meteorological Department said.

Authorities in Tamil Nadu state turned 282 schools into relief centers in the state capital, Chennai. The city's port halted cargo operations, but berthing of ships was continuing, the Press Trust of India news agency said. Twenty-three ships were moved to safer areas.

About 150,000 people were moved to shelters in Nellore district in Andhra Pradesh state, district official B. Sridhar said.

In Sri Lanka, authorities said two people were killed and thousands displaced due to heavy rain and strong winds from the storm.

Sri Lanka's Disaster Management Centre said 4,627 people across the island nation had been displaced because of flooding, while 56 were evacuated in the central region due to threats of landslides. One woman died Tuesday after a tree branch fell on her, while another person was killed in flooding, the agency said. Floods have also damaged about 1,000 houses, it said.


Associated Press writer Bharatha Mallawarachi in Colombo, Sri Lanka, contributed to this report.