The southern states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu hunkered down on Thursday as Cyclone Ockhi hurtled towards the Lakshadweep Islands, uprooting trees, snapping power lines and dumping rain in its wake.
After originating in the Bay of Bengal, Ockhi, the first in the cyclone season, has killed at least five people so far.
Both state governments have shut schools and colleges and advised people to remain indoors, apart from stopping train services and deploying the police force in rescue services.
The meteorological department has warned that the depression over the ocean may intensify rains in the region in the next 24 hours. The depression hovered over the south-west of Bay of Bengal on Wednesday, and lies at about 70km south of Kanyakumari currently, Regional Meteorological Centre director S. Balachandran told reporters in Chennai.
Rains wreaked havoc in many areas, especially low-lying and coastal parts, damaging houses, uprooting trees and electric poles and destroying communication networks, regional new reports said.
At least four people were killed in Tamil Nadu and one in Kerala so far, as per regional news reports.
More than 12 trains, including long-distance trains and passenger trains, to the two states have been either partially cancelled or stopped.
More than 30 fishing boats that ventured into the sea earlier this morning from coastal villages in Thiruvananthapuram and the neighbouring Kanyakumari have been reported missing.
Kerala’s hilly regions were reported to be facing landslide-like conditions, as per regional news reports.
Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan held a video conference with all district collectors and advised them to be on high alert. He has asked given them directions to evacuate people in low-lying areas if needed.
Private weather forecaster Skymet Weather on Thursday noon said heavy to very heavy rains are likely to continue in Kerala, especially in southern parts.