Oct 13, 2014 5:39 AM

Workers clear debris after Indian cyclone kills 8

The Associated Press

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

In Japan, a tropical storm could reach the Tokyo area early Tuesday. At typhoon strength earlier, Vongfong hit Kyushu island after battering the southern island of 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.

In India, rescuers readied dozens of boats, helicopters and other aircraft to carry out relief operations once they obtained a clearer idea of the extent of damage in Andhra Pradesh and Orissa states, said Anil Shekhawat, an Indian official.

Weather forecasters warned that heavy to very heavy rainfall would lash parts of six Indian states as a tropical depression moved further inland northwest of the city of Visakhapatnam, where it made landfall as a cyclone Sunday.

Cyclone Hudhud's winds demolished about 50,000 thatched huts belonging to poor tribal people in the Gajapati, Koraput and Malkangiri districts of Orissa state, said P.K. Mahapatra, the state's special relief commissioner.

Eight people had died as of Monday, five in Andhra Pradesh state and three in Orissa state, mostly because of injuries from collapsed walls and falling trees, officials said.

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.

Visakhapatnam, one of the largest cities in southern India and a major naval base, bore the brunt of Hudhud's fury. 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.

Andhra Pradesh's chief minister, N. Chandrababu Naidu, said Sunday that while the early evacuations had saved lives, the cyclone caused "huge damage" to buildings and crops in coastal districts.

The National Disaster Response Force said rescuers were trying to reach 320 villages in Andhra Pradesh badly hit by the cyclone.

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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