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Oct 13, 2014 10:46 AM

Workers clear debris after Indian cyclone kills 24

The Associated Press

HYDERABAD, India (AP) Rescue workers and soldiers cleared uprooted trees and electrical poles blocking roads in eastern India on Monday after a tropical cyclone killed at least 24 people and demolished tens of thousands of mud huts.

In Japan, a tropical storm could reach the Tokyo area early Tuesday. At typhoon strength earlier, Vongfong hit Kyushu island after battering Okinawa. At least 37 people were injured, and 400,000 were advised to evacuate. Train service and flights were disrupted in Kyushu and the neighboring island of Shikoku.

As weather improved in India on Monday, the air force used planes and helicopters to drop food packets in affected places in and around Visakhapatnam, the city hit worst by Sunday's severe cyclone, said a statement by India's Home Ministry.

Rescuers reached several coastal areas battered by the cyclone and evacuated 11,853 people in Andhra Pradesh state and 1,403 in Orissa state to safer places, the statement said.

Weather forecasters warned that heavy to very heavy rainfall would lash parts of six states as the remnants of the cyclone moved further inland.

Cyclone Hudhud's winds demolished about 80,000 thatched huts belonging to poor tribal people across Orissa state, said P.K. Mahapatra, the state's special relief commissioner.

More than 6,500 homes were damaged in Andhra Pradesh state, said Parkala Prabhakar, a state government official.

Twenty-four deaths were counted as of late Monday, 21 in Andhra Pradesh state and three in Orissa, mostly because of injuries from collapsed walls and falling trees, officials said.

Andhra Pradesh government official Parkala Prabhakar said 15 were killed in Visakhapatnam, one of the largest cities in southern India and a major naval base. Television footage showed downed electrical poles, uprooted trees and debris strewn in the streets. Train and cellphone services were disrupted.

Electricity was disconnected in parts of Andhra Pradesh to avoid electrocutions, said Arvind Kumar, a relief and rescue official.

At least 400,000 people were evacuated from coastal areas of the two states ahead of the storm, and hundreds of shelters were set up to house them, helping to reduce casualties.

While India has a disastrous record of response to natural calamities, it safely evacuated nearly a million people before Cyclone Phailin hit Orissa state last October. The strongest tropical storm to hit India in more than a decade, Phailin destroyed hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of crops but claimed only about 25 lives.

The Indian Ocean is a cyclone hotspot. Of the 35 deadliest storms in recorded history, 27 have come through the Bay of Bengal and have landed in either India or Bangladesh. In 1999, a cyclone devastated Orissa's coastline and killed at least 10,000 people.


Associated Press writers Ken Moritsugu in Tokyo and Ashok Sharma in New Delhi contributed to this report.


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