India

Tropical Cyclone Sweeps Towards Indian Coast

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MADRAS, India, June 14 (Reuter) - A tropical cyclone heading through the Bay of Bengal with wind speeds of up to 100 kph (60 mph) is expected to lash India's southeastern coast on Friday, meteorological officials said.

The cyclone was likely to hit Nellore town, some 1,700 km (1,060 miles) southeast of New Delhi, at around noon local time (0630 GMT), they said.

Three people were reported killed near Madras, a coastal city with more than six million people, during heavy rain and high winds on Thursday.

Local officials said no damage to property or crops had been reported as knee-deep water flooded some streets in Madras, capital of the southern state of Tamil Nadu and about 1,800 km (1,125 miles) southeast of New Delhi.

"Madras is spared by the storm," S.K. Subramaniam, a senior meteorological department official, said.

Officials said the cyclone could slow sowing in a rice-growing belt between Madras and Machlipatnam, a small port northeast of Madras.

They said the cyclone could disrupt berthing, loading and unloading at the major ports of Vishakhapatnam and Kakinada, northeast of Machlipatnam.

Grains and soyabeans from eastern India destined for export to Southeast Asian countries usually pass through Kakinada. Officials said no shipping alerts had been issued but warned fishermen not to venture out to sea.

They said the cyclone could damage shrimp farms in Nellore and neighbouring areas, home to India's aquaculture industry.

Tropical cyclones are fairly common in early summer in eastern India.

They are distinct from rainfall caused by southwestern monsoon winds that sweep across India from south to north between June and August.

(c) Reuters Limited 1996

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