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May 21, 2010 / Dave Gorham

Cyclone Laila Made Landfall along Southeastern Coast of India on Thursday

On Thursday, Cyclone Laila made landfall on the coast of southeastern Indian with winds up to 100 kilometers (60 miles) per hour and was responsible for uprooting trees and downed power lines. Heavy rains and strong winds killed at least 23 people over the past two days and 55 fishermen have been reported missing even though officials ordered fishing vessels to stay in port. The state of Andhra Pradesh evacuated more than 50,000 people as it braced for its worst storm in 14 years.

Visible satellite image of Cyclone Laila off the southeastern India coast on May 19 at 08:10 UTC (4:10 a.m. EDT). Image: NASA’s Aqua Satellite

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister K. Rosaiah said that waves as high as 9 feet (3 meters) lashed the coast, and torrential rain fell in coastal districts. Officials said that even before the cyclone hit, some parts of the state had received up to a foot (32 centimeters) of rain. Excessive rainfall is still expected in parts of eastern India over the next few days with some flooding possible as this system lifts towards the northeast.

The state government has set up control rooms in the nine coastal districts to coordinate rescue missions. Nearly a dozen towns and more than 1,400 villages in six districts were hit by power outages.

The loss of 23 lives is tragic, but it definitely could have been a lot worse. In 1977, more than 10,000 people died when Andhra Pradesh was struck by one of the worst cyclones to hit Indian shores in history. Maximum sustained winds were estimated at 125 mph.

Storm path of the 1977 cyclone that hit India. Image: Wikepedia


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