Cyclone Nilam Hits the Southeastern Coast of India

Cyclone Nilam has struck the southeastern coast of India, bringing with it severe flooding and winds almost as strong as superstorm Sandy.

Nilam, which formed over the Bay of Bengal, looked to be headed straight for the Sri Lankan coast.  Fortunately, Sri Lanka, which is still re-building after a decades-long war, avoided the worst of the storm. Having only closed the massive Menik Farm displacement camp one month ago, the last thing this Southern Asian country needed was another humanitarian disaster.

The force of the cyclone could be seen even before it hit Indian coastlines. Its powerful winds forced an oil tanker to run aground.

The storm then surged towards the Southeastern coast of India, placing the states of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu on high alert. More than 5,000 people were subsequently evacuated from their homes in Chennai, the capital city of Tamil Nadu. By early evening (IST) Nilam had struck the port of Mahabalipuram and is now expected to spread along the coast through the night.

Cyclone Nilam comes only a year after Cyclone Thane, which last December killed 47 people in India. This massive storm, which hit Tamil Nadu destroying houses and crops, brought gale force winds of up to 135 kmph and tidal surges of nearly 1.5 metres, or about 5 feet. Although the cyclone currently bashing the coastal areas of southern India is not as strong as Thane, it still brings fears of human displacement and infrastructure damage. Extra precautions are being taken this time to ensure people’s safety.

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