Machilipatnam: Cyclone Helen hit the north-eastern coast of Andhra Pradesh at around 2 pm today, killing at least two people and forcing nearly 11,000 people to take shelter in camps.
A senior state official said one person died in Machilipatnam in Krishna district, nearly 600 km from the state capital of Hyderabad and the site of the cyclone making its landfall.
The other death has been reported from West Godavari district, sources said, adding that at least 20 fishermen and six boats were also missing from the coastal district.
Cyclone Helen was packing sustained winds of up to 120 kilometres an hour (75 mph) when it hit the Andhra coast. Authorities fear the wind and rain may damage paddy and coconut plantations.
The terminated power supply is likely to be restored by tonight, depending on the rain and wind conditions, officials said.
Classed as “severe,” Helen is considerably weaker than the “very severe” cyclone Phailin which slammed into the east coast further to the north in October, killing at least 18 and leaving a trail of destruction.
Some 20 rescue teams had been deployed in the flood zone on Thursday to provide help, Tripti Parule, spokeswoman for the National Disaster Management Agency, told AFP.
“We are aiming for zero-casualty. That is our priority. Evacuations of thousands have already taken place and provision for food, water and shelter are also on track. It’s the usual flood drill,” said Parule.
The most powerful storms which strike India at this time of year are classed as “super-cyclones” followed by “very severe” then “severe”.
Cyclone Phailin had sustained winds of more than 200 kilometres an hour which uprooted trees, overturned trucks, snapped power lines and flooded large tracts of farmland.