Thousands evacuated as cyclone approaches India's east coast
BHUBANESWAR, INDIA (AP) - More than 40,000 villagers were evacuated from coastal areas along India's eastern seaboard and state officials reached out to the military for help as they prepared for a massive cyclone spinning in the Bay of Bengal.
Officials cancelled holy day celebrations in coastal Orissa and Andhra Pradesh states, with forecasters saying Cyclone Phailin will hit the region Saturday evening.
The Indian Meteorological Department warned that Phailin was a "very severe cyclonic storm" that was was expected to hit with maximum sustained winds of 210-220 kph. The department warned the storm could cause large-scale disruption of power and communication lines, hit rail and road traffic with extensive flooding, and cause extensive damage to crops.
Using trucks and buses, authorities evacuated 40,000 people from 40 villages to government-run shelters, schools and buildings in five districts of Orissa state, said Surya Narayan Patra, the state revenue and disaster management minister.