Some 7,000 people seek refuge in emergency shelters in the district of Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu
The death toll in Cuddalore has risen to 27, a local official says
The storm has weakened and is now dousing Kerala and surrounding areas with heavy rain
The death toll from a storm that has pummeled India’s southeastern coastline rose Saturday to 27, with thousands forced to seek refuge in emergency shelters, officials in the worst affected area said.
The Tamil Nadu district of Cuddalore, south of the city of Chennai, bore the brunt of Cyclone Thane’s fury Friday, with winds gusting at almost 90 miles per hour at its peak.
The storm uprooted trees, ripped off traffic signals from their posts and sent shards of glass and other debris whizzing through the air.
Amuthavalli, the district’s top official who goes by a single name, told CNN the number of residents killed stood at 27 as of Saturday but is not expected to climb much higher. Some lost their lives when walls collapsed or downed power lines caused electrocution.
One of those killed was a French national, the French Foreign Ministry said Saturday. France presents its sincere condolences to the victim’s family and his loved ones, the ministry said.
The first priority is to restore power supplies, she said. Workers will then start clearing fallen trees and other wreckage from the district’s roads.
Some 7,000 people are staying in emergency shelters set up in school buildings, community halls and 20 cyclone centers in the Cuddalore area, she said.
Cyclone Thane hit the states of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu and the union territory of Puducherry Friday morning but turned southward after landfall, severely affecting Cuddalore.
As of early Saturday, the storm had weakened to a low pressure area over north Kerala state and parts of neighboring states, the Indian Meteorological Department said.
The weather system will bring heavy rainfall to Kerala, as well as parts of southern Karnataka and northern Tamil Nadu, forecasters said.
Fishermen were advised to stay off rough seas throughout Friday and coastal residents, many of whom live in vulnerable thatched-roof huts, had been told to evacuate to higher ground ahead of the storm’s arrival.
CNN’s Joyce Joseph and Harmeet Singh contributed to this report.