Cyclone Burevi slams into eastern Sri Lanka

Tropical cyclone Burevi is expected to hit Sri Lanka late on Wednesday. PHOTO: REUTERS

COLOMBO (REUTERS) - Tropical cyclone Burevi slammed into Sri Lanka's eastern coast on Wednesday night (Dec 2) and was expected to damage coastal buildings and power lines, as well as unleash flash floods, officials at the meteorological department said.

During the day Sri Lankan authorities evacuated over 75,000 people from homes on the east coast where cyclone Burevi, packing winds of up to 90kmh was set to hit.

The island's disaster management centre advised those living near its path to stay indoors.

Earlier in the day Athula Karunanayake, the chief of the meteorology department said the wind speeds could reach 80 to 90kmh.

"Some areas will get more than 200mm of rain," he added.

Those evacuated, from the Trincomalee district expected to be hit the hardest, have been moved into 237 relief centres until the cyclone passes, disaster officials said.

But Anuradha Yahampath, governor of the eastern province which includes Trincomalee, said some people were still resisting the evacuation effort.

"I am appealing to people to go to these camps as soon as possible," he told local media.

"I met some of the fishermen earlier. They are aware of the situation but they are still not ready to leave their homes."

Authorities in the northern and eastern provinces, home to millions of people, will keep schools shut until at least Friday.

By Thursday, the cyclone's path will carry it north-west towards the Arabian Sea, Karunanayake said.

Burevi is projected to move into southern India by early on Friday, Indian weather officials have said, but is expected to cause less damage there.

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