Cyclone Gaja kills 33 in southern India, thousands in relief camps

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The death toll from Cyclone Gaja rose to 33 on Sunday, authorities in India said, as emergency services rushed to deliver vital supplies to people sheltering in more than 400 state-run camps.

The powerful storm barreled across parts of Tamil Nadu state on Friday, bringing heavy rains and winds that reached 120 kilometers (75 miles) per hour.

“So far 20 men, 11 women, and two children have died due to the cyclone,” an official at the state disaster management authority said, adding that nearly 180,000 people were being housed in shelters.

Read moreIndia still missing hundreds of fishermen after Cyclone Ockhi

Widespread damage

The state’s chief minister, Edappadi Palaniswami, said most of the deaths were caused by flooding, homes collapsing and electrocution. The storm caused massive damage to homes and roads, and uprooted 30,000 electricity poles and more than 100,000 trees, he added.

Relief workers at the scene of a collapsed tree

Hundreds of relief workers, two ships and a helicopter are helping with the cleanup

Hundreds of emergency workers, as well as a navy helicopter and two ships, were deployed to help with the cleanup and deliver food and drinking water to those in shelters.

Read more:The world’s deadliest hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones

Forecasts said Gaja would continue to move west into neighboring Kerala before reaching the Arabian Sea. It is the second major storm to strike in as many months — in October, Cyclone Titli struck the state of Orissa, killing at least two people.

Last year, Cyclone Ockhi killed more than 200 people in Tamil Nadu and Kerala states.

Read morePoor disaster management makes India and Pakistan vulnerable

A fallen pole and a damaged motorbike are seen in a road after cyclone Gaja hit Velankanni, in Nagapattinam district in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, India, November 16, 2018 (Reuters/Stringer)

Gaja tore down some 30,000 electricity poles

nm/amp (AFP, AP)

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