Heavy rains batter India’s southern coast

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Heavy rains batter India’s southern coast

Heavy rains and strong winds from a severe cyclonic storm have been battering India’s southern coast with reports that several people have died.

Thousands of people living in low lying areas have been evacuated in the states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.

Many residential areas of the city of Chennai have been flooded, with cars swept away and trees uprooted.

Chennai airport, one of the busiest in India, shut down its operations on Monday.

Police in Chennai said that six people had been killed – the causes of death included falling structures and electrocution. Two people were killed when rain caused a wall to collapse in the city of Chengalpattu, the Reuters news agency reported.

Cyclone Michaung is expected to make landfall on Tuesday morning in Andhra Pradesh between Nellore and Machilipatnam, with wind speeds of up to 110km/h (68mph).

Meteorological officials have issued a red alert to parts of the states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Schools, colleges and banks have shut on Monday and will remain closed on Tuesday in at least four districts.

In and around Chennai – a major electronics and manufacturing hub – factories closed, including iPhone production facilities, Reuters reported.

Almost 7,000 people have been evacuated from the state’s coastal districts and an additional 21,000 might be evacuated depending on the path and severity of the cyclone, the news agency reported.

The worst of the weather is expected to be over by Wednesday morning.

Very heavy rainfall has hit north Tamil Nadu, Rayalaseema and Andhra Pradesh over the past 24 hours, and rain and wind warnings are in place for part of those three states as well as Telangana and Odisha.

India’s meteorological department has also issued a warning that people need to stay indoors in southern Andhra Pradesh and northern Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.

It has also said serious damage was expected to housing in the area and warned fishermen not to go out to sea in a number of coastal areas.

A wind warning has also been issued for parts of the Bay of Bengal.

Parts of Andhra Pradesh are likely to get more than 20cm (8in) of rain over the next 24 hours.

Some places in Chennai have recorded up to 25cm of rain in the last 24 hours.

A warning for dense fog has also been issued for Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, West Uttar Pradesh and East Rajasthan.